America: The Motion Picture: How We Pretend it Happened – Netflix Review

We see the version of America that we’ll probably teach as accurate in 30 years.

It’s hard to do a movie that’s really based around one main joke, as I recently pointed out with the film Cooties. This film’s main joke is that everything in it is not only inaccurate, but ridiculously so. The thing is, the film is doing this to point out that Americans so over-inflate our history that this movie’s not much less accurate than most of our portrayals of our founding. I mean, if you’re going to deify all of the Founders, then why not also give them superpowers and chainsaw blades?

Land of the Free, Home of the Whopper.

The plot of the movie is that Benedict Arnold (Andy Samberg) successfully kills off the Second Continental Congress and steals the Declaration of Independence. He then assassinates Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte), the best friend of George Washington (Channing Tatum), who inherits Lincoln’s dream of founding a new nation called America. Washington joins forces with noted beer inventor Sam Adams (Jason Mantzoukas), Chinese immigrant inventor Thomas Edison (Olivia Munn), man raised by horses Paul Revere (Bobby Moynihan), Native American renegade and tracker Geronimo (Raoul Trujillo), and notable blacksmith John Henry (Killer Mike) in order to stop Arnold and the plans of King James (Simon Pegg).

Assassinated in a theater. How ridiculous.

Originally I was told that this movie’s historical inaccuracy was actually based on final exam answers given by US high school seniors. Unfortunately, I’ve found nothing to back that up, so maybe American students aren’t that dumb. That said, some of the gags in this movie based on historical confusion are absolutely hilarious. Probably my favorite is when George Washington introduces himself to his future wife Martha (Judy Greer) and she asks him if he’s the inventor of peanut butter, which he confirms. The joke here isn’t just that she’s confusing him for George Washington Carver, it’s also that George Washington Carver didn’t invent peanut butter. A ton of the humor in this movie is that the thing that they make a joke about is itself based on a common misconception. I found that hilarious, but it did mean that some of the punchlines took more thought than you’d expect. 

t.Benedict Arnold is both a turncoat (literally) and a werewolf. Love it.

The rest of the movie is just a parody of every giant action movie trope, including the final climactic fight scene that involves every character and a ton of fast-cut visuals like the end of Avengers: Endgame. Much of the violence is over-the-top, but in a way that successfully cuts down the impact. My favorite is the running gag of a character’s throat getting ripped out and calling them “roadhoused.” 

Also nudity and dancing.

Overall, I’m not going to say this is a great movie, but I thought it was entertaining. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – Love Wedding Repeat: You Can Skip The Reception

A Sliding Doors and My Best Friend’s Wedding mash-up doesn’t quite work.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Jack (Sam Claflin) and Dina (Olivia Munn) meet through Jack’s sister Hayley (Eleanor Tomlinson) and spend several days courting in Italy. On the last day before he leaves, he fails to kiss her and apparently doesn’t see her for several years. Yes, this is the age of smartphones. They meet again at Hayley’s wedding, which is also crashed by Hayley’s coked-up stalker Marc (Jack Farthing), who has come to win Hayley back. Hayley asks Jack to drug Marc so that he won’t make a scene. Jack puts sleeping pills in Marc’s glass… after which a bunch of kids play with the place settings. This impacts a number of people’s plans: Jack’s attempts to finally romance Dina; Hayley’s aspiring actor Maid/Man-of-Honor Bryan (Joel Fry) trying to score points with acclaimed filmmaker Vitelli (Paolo Mazzarelli); Jack’s ex Amanda (Freida Pinto) deals with her new insecure boyfriend Chaz (Allan Mustafa); and clingers-on Rebecca (Aisling Bea) and Sidney (Tim Key) both try to hit on people in awkward conversations. After everything goes wrong, the movie then shows us how things would play out if the kids moved the place cards in other ways.

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This whole movie is based on him not texting after. 

END SUMMARY

This is not a Groundhog Day/Edge of Tomorrow situation, despite what the marketing and title would indicate. Nobody is aware of the different timelines and they don’t impact each other like Run Lola Run, so I think the most publicly recognizable analogue is Sliding Doors. It’s closer to the “Remedial Chaos Theory” episode of the show Community, but a lot of people haven’t seen that episode, sadly. We’re told, fairly explicitly, that all of the realities we see play out are real and happening simultaneously… which actually has the opposite effect in this movie that they were going for. As Rick and Morty frequently points out, if the multiverse is truly infinite, then everything happens, which means that everything that happens is less meaningful. The movie tries to save it by saying that it’s not necessarily an infinite number of outcomes, just a huge number, and that makes any occurrence more special, but it really doesn’t come off that way. It also doesn’t help that we really only see two of the timelines, with the other ones just having quick flashes in between the main two narratives. 

LoveWedRepeat - 2TheEx
I think there’s one where they get back together.

A big problem with the movie is that it’s supposed to be Jack and Dina’s story, but we barely get the time to process them as a couple to even care about whether they get together or not. That’s the Rom part of Rom-com and it seems completely unfulfilled. Part of why is that the movie has too many ancillary plotlines which are not rewarding enough to merit the focus. It also hurts that several of the characters just flat-out aren’t likable in the original timeline, which makes it really hard to root for them in the second timeline. They also go too overboard on the original universe being the “darkest timeline” (again, Community) with everything descending into absurdly bad circumstances for everyone, rather than just having a universe where Jack and Dina don’t work out.

LoveWedRepeat - 3Cake
You can tell it’s the worst because the cake gets wrecked.

The reason why the movie ultimately fails, though, is that it just isn’t that funny. The timing on all of the jokes just doesn’t work, there aren’t enough reaction beats, and, mostly, the lines just aren’t that clever. Without the Rom and without the Com, this Rom-Com really never stood a chance. It’s surprising that this film was by Dean Craig, who made the (admittedly similar feeling) Death at a Funeral movies. 

LoveWedRepeat - 4Sidney
Tim Key (center) does have some fun lines, but they’re few.

To the film’s credit, the cast is pretty great at their roles. All of them manage to portray wildly different sides of the same characters and do it believably. Jack isn’t a perfect protagonist, but you do get the feeling that he’s a decent guy. We see Hayley reveal the same embarrassing secret in two different scenarios, and Eleanor Tomlinson plays it perfectly both times. 

Overall, I just can’t recommend this film. Maybe just check out Community, since it’s now on Netflix.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.