America: The Motion Picture
Official release poster
Directed byMatt Thompson
Written byDave Callaham
Produced by
Starring
Edited byChristian Danley
Music byMark Mothersbaugh
Production
companies
Distributed byNetflix[2]
Release date
  • June 30, 2021 (2021-06-30)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

America: The Motion Picture is a 2021 American comedy film directed by Matt Thompson and written by Dave Callaham, (who both also produce). It stars Channing Tatum (also a producer), Jason Mantzoukas, Olivia Munn, Bobby Moynihan, Judy Greer, Will Forte, Raoul Max Trujillo, Killer Mike, Simon Pegg and Andy Samberg. It is an R-rated, animated parody of George Washington and his fight against the British. The film uses anachronism, ahistoricism, and Americentrism to create a comic effect. Dates, the roles of various historical figures, battles, notable inventions and technologies are changed, reinvented or outright created. Prominent events and figures from the American Revolutionary War period and American history through to the 20th century are moved into the film's 1776 setting.

Netflix released America: The Motion Picture in streaming on June 30, 2021.[3][4] It received generally negative reviews from film critics, who criticized it as being unfunny.[5]

Plot

In July 1776, just after signing the Declaration of Independence, Benedict Arnold appears and murders all of its signatories, blows up Independence Hall, and steals the Declaration. He goes to Ford's Theatre, where George Washington and his childhood best friend, Abraham Lincoln, are watching a play.

Arnold tells Lincoln that he is betraying the country, as he turns into a werewolf and bites off Lincoln's neck. Before his death, Lincoln asks Washington to bring the American Revolutionary War to an end naming the future country "America." Washington chases Arnold through the town, killing his soldiers but failing to kill him.

At Lincoln's funeral, Washington meets Martha Dandridge. She urges him to continue the revolution after the two have sex. To build a strong team, Washington teams up with beer loving party animal Samuel Adams and they recruit equestrian champion but socially awkward Paul Revere. They endeavor to recruit female Chinese scientist Thomas Edison, only to find that she is being executed by the British for testing science. However, she manages to escape and agrees to join George’s team. Finally they get Native American hunter Geronimo to join them knowing he has more knowledge about the land than anyone.

They manage to track down Arnold at a Vietnam bar. Although the enemy has fled and Edison blows up the bar, they conclude that the events in Vietnam were not a failure. The team asks for help from master blacksmith John Henry, who is to make a silver bullet for them to kill Arnold. To get the silver, they go to Boston to steal a mass supply of silver spoons from the Titanic. On board the ship, they learn that the British are bathing people in tea so they will come over to their side. They also discover plans of a secret British superweapon but fail to retrieve it because Washington accidentally spills tea everywhere, causing a fire that sinks the ship. Adams then proposes to the others that they will say the Titanic had hit an iceberg and that they were never there.

Arnold kidnaps Martha, who is to become the future wife of King James. Washington manages to find out about a Gettysburg Address where Arnold meets the king at a secret meeting. It turns out an ambush and Clyde, Revere's horse, dies sacrificing himself. King James appears at the Gettysburg address in the form of a hologram and offers Washington a battle the next morning at Attrition field; Washington agrees. However, Arnold kills the king and takes over the world himself.

The next day the British army stands up against the American army which has been hastily assembled by Washington. On the British side there are among others, Elizabeth Tower in the form of a Transformer, London buses in the form of AT-ATs, and Arnold flying in a crown-shaped ship with a Venus flytrap like soccer ball. The Americans have a hundred-foot tall Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, as well as Indians, Mexicans, African Americans, Asians, Arabs, ravers, and Revere, who had fused his back with what was left of Clyde with nano-cybernetic technology by Clara Barton, and Johnny Appleseed.

During the war the British attempted to make the revolutionaries British by tainting the clouds with tea creating a tea rain, which was their superweapon from before. Edison, thanks to the power of science, manages to use the British weapons against them, turning tea into beer. When the beer rain falls, the British transform into bros, and it also cures Martha, who had been turned British prior to the battle, changing her into a living Statue of Liberty. A final confrontation occurs with Arnold, who turns himself into a mega-wolf and, after Washington restrains him, is eventually defeated with a silver bullet from Henry, who kills him with America's favorite pastime. A few days later, a ceremony is held for people to watch Adams blow up Arnold’s Monument.

Six months later, on July 4, 1776, Washington inaugurates the grand opening of America at the monument of his name. As Washington plans for I. M. Pei to build another memorial for his best friend to stare at his monument, the spirit of Lincoln comes back. It gives him the Declaration, repaired with tape, while Adams becomes the uncle for George’s newborn son, Denzel. The inauguration goes as planned, but is disrupted when the crowd engages in a political fight with each other, arguing over freeing the slaves, racism, women's rights, giving back the land to the natives, right to keep and bear arms, same-sex marriage, religious beliefs, free health care, and fair trials, making Washington nervous about the future of the country.

Voice cast

Production

In March 2017, producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller announced that they would produce an R-rated animated Netflix original film called America: The Motion Picture with Will Allegra, Matt Thompson, Adam Reed, Channing Tatum, Reid Carolin and Peter Kiernan appearing in the movie. The screenplay was written by David Callaham and Thompson was the director.[6][7]

Critical reception

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 35% of 49 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "America: The Motion Picture is definitely outrageous and possibly patriotic—problem is, it's also not very funny."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 38 out of 100 based on 18 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[8]

Amy Nicholson of The New York Times described the film as "a raunchy, aggressively inane cartoon that flips the bird—both onscreen and thematically—to a strain of patriotism that insists that the slave owners who started this country were sober-minded heroes whose vision of democracy remains flawless, bro."[9] Inkoo Kang of The Washington Post gave the film a score of 1.5/4 stars saying, "The gulf between stupid-smart and just plain stupid feels immeasurably vast when watching America: The Motion Picture, which is clearly aiming for the former but lands squarely in the latter."[10] Brian Lowry of CNN described the film as "a movie that's loud and annoying more than truly provocative, peppered with pop-culture references that prove cleverer than its rewrite of US history."[11]

Steve Greene of IndieWire gave the film a grade of C, describing it as "a goofy mishmash of riffs on prominent historical figures", and added: "Most of the time, it’s knowingly stupid, which makes watching it 90 minutes of occasional fun and frequent indifference."[12] Melanie McFarland of Salon.com wrote: "Rarely have I seen a movie so confident that its viewers not only revel in American benightedness but are eager to identify with it"; she described the film as "not only a waste of time but an insult to ignoramuses."[13]

Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic gave the film a score of 2.5/5 stars, writing that it "goes all in on its deranged version of the founding of the nation", but added: "It wears you down over time, but especially early on it's too satisfied just to be shocking and irreverent."[14]

Michael Nordine of Variety was more positive in his review and wrote, "Though loyalists and sticklers for historical accuracy may not consider it their cup of tea, America will likely win over anyone who knows not to take it too seriously."[15] Randy Myers of The Mercury News gave the film a score of 3/4 stars writing, "Even when you think it’s only acting rude and juvenile just because, it’s much smarter than that, particularly whenever it skewers American attitudes (both conservative and liberal)."[16]

References

  1. ^ a b c d DeFore, John (June 30, 2021). "Channing Tatum in Netflix's 'America: The Motion Picture': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on June 30, 2021. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  2. ^ Lindahl, Chris (April 27, 2021). "Netflix Touts Summer Movie Slate with New 'Army of the Dead,' 'America,' 'Fear Street' Footage". IndieWire. Archived from the original on May 7, 2021. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  3. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (March 31, 2017). "Netflix Announces an R-Rated 'America' as First Animated Movie". Animation Magazine. Archived from the original on April 29, 2021. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  4. ^ "America' Trailer: Channing Tatum Voices Foul-Mouthed George Washington in Netflix Comedy". Indiewire. June 3, 2021. Archived from the original on June 4, 2021. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "America: The Motion Picture". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 30, 2022.
  6. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 3, 2017). "Netflix Sets First Animated Film 'America'; Channing Tatum Voicing George Washington". Deadline. Archived from the original on March 31, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  7. ^ "Netflix's first animated film will star Channing Tatum as George Washington". The Verge. March 31, 2017. Archived from the original on June 4, 2021. Retrieved April 3, 2017.
  8. ^ "America: The Motion Picture". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  9. ^ Nicholson, Amy (June 30, 2021). "'America: The Motion Picture' Review: In Bros We Trust". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on October 3, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  10. ^ Kang, Inkoo (June 30, 2021). "Review | A beefy George Washington avenges Lincoln's death in this cheekily inaccurate and dumb animated comedy". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on September 14, 2022. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  11. ^ Lowry, Brian (June 29, 2021). "'America: The Motion Picture' works way too hard at being outrageous". CNN. Archived from the original on June 29, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  12. ^ Greene, Steve (June 30, 2021). "'America: The Motion Picture' Review: Animated History Rewrite Is Less Than Revolutionary". IndieWire. Archived from the original on June 30, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  13. ^ McFarland, Melanie (June 30, 2021). "Bro, say can you see? "America: The Motion Picture" shows we're not just dumb, we're drawn that way". Salon. Archived from the original on June 30, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  14. ^ Goodykoontz, Bill. "Netflix's 'America: The Motion Picture' is a hit-and-miss purposeful misreading of history". The Arizona Republic. Archived from the original on July 30, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  15. ^ Nordine, Michael (July 1, 2021). "'America: The Motion Picture' Review: Netflix Toon Gives U.S. History a Twist of 'Archer'-Style Irreverence". Variety. Archived from the original on July 1, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  16. ^ Myers, Randy (June 30, 2021). "New movies: History gets a makeover in wild 'America: The Motion Picture'". The Mercury News. Archived from the original on June 30, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.