Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Warner Archive Instant Cult Picks - AMERICATHON ""

Friday, March 28, 2014

Warner Archive Instant Cult Picks - AMERICATHON

I'm a big big fan of Mike Judge's film IDIOCRACY. I think it's kinda brilliant. I am a big fan of dystopian comedies in general. Something about science fiction and comedy together is kinda peanut butter and chocolate for me. If your a fan of 80s comedies and spoofs, you may be familiar with Neal Israel. He was a rather prolific writer throughout the 1980s and was responsible in part or in whole for things like BACHELOR PARTY, POLICE ACADEMY  and MOVING VIOLATIONS. He basically gets a pass from me for all of eternity based on his involvement in REAL GENIUS alone (which is one if my favorite comedies of the 80s or any era). Israel kind of helped define a certain kind of zany r-rated comedy that many of us have come to recall fondly from the 1980s. 
AMERICATHON opens in a fun way with Peter Riegert (an actor I adore btw) waking up in his car/home in a sort of trailer park with a bunch of cars/homes. He goes through his morning routine and then hops on his bike and gets on the "bike freeway" with the other walking and biking commuters to go to work. You see, the film posits a future scenario (it is set in 1998) where the energy crisis of Jimmy Carter's presidency has lead to the exhaustion of all fossil fuels. It's a good setup and it's one of Neal Israel's more ambitious ideas. The film is buoyed by a lovely voiceover narration from the great George Carlin who is a nice choice for such a thing especially in a movie like this. It gives the movie an instant kinship with BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE. Carlin lays out the current state of America for us - The U.S. is flat broke and in need of money to pay back a $400 Billion dollar loan to NIKE (which now stands for National Indian Knitting Enterprises). This future includes passing fads like clown shoes and high-fashion roller skates and everything has a little coin slot attached to it for pay-to-use purposes (telephones, elevators etc). John Ritter plays President Roosevelt, elected on his "I'm not a schmuck" platform and he wears it proudly. Ritter, Riegert and other comedy pros like Fred Willard, Harvey Korman, Howard Hessman, and Jay Leno round out a nice, jovial cast. Watch for smaller roles from Meat Loaf, Elvis Costello, and Tommy Lasorda. The movie throws a whole lotta crap at the wall and as you might guess, not all of it sticks. Even if it isn't entirely successful on a comedic level, it is still a film that is oddly prescient for some reason even 35 years later and there's much fun to be had in watching it. 
So as I said, I really enjoy IDIOCRACY and I'm pretty sure Mike Judge must have at least looked at AMERICATHON during the making of that film if it's not a straight up direct influence. It's hard to not see a similarity in the setup of the White House, the president and his cabinet. Both films depict such a ridiculous chaos at a government level that it is indeed laughable and yet, there some part of me that wonders how chaotic it really can get inside the oval during any presidential term. This movie is worth a look and it is currently streaming via Warner Archive Instant:
(which has a 2 week free trial if you haven't jumped on board yet)

Check out this very 'News On The March'-ish trailer for the film:

And this Clip from the movie:


Robert M. Lindsey said...

I saw this a million years ago on HBO and then it seems to have disappeared. Until now! I'd like to see it again.

If you like Riegert have you seen Crossing Delancy?

Rupert Pupkin said...

I have, I like that film. Love Riegert in CHILLY SCENES OF WINTER.