America: The Motion Picture is a new adult-animated comedy from veteran television director Matt Thompson. It features a large cast of famous comedians and an absurd premise that has potential. Despite all of the resources at its disposal, this is a comedy that tries far too hard to be outrageous and satirical, but it falls flat as a dull attempt at historical comedy.
After the betrayal of Benedict Arnold (although a far different version than we were taught), George Washington assembles a team of historical figures to take down the British. Washington wields dual chainsaws, and an anachronistic Thomas Edison has gloves that can electrocute people. It combines many different eras of America to tell its riff on the revolution, and while this sounds ripe for comedy, the movie misses the mark completely and creates another bland animated comedy.
Dave Callaham, who most recently penned the scripts for Mortal Kombat and Wonder Woman 1984, creates a comedy where most of the jokes don’t land. It tries to combine history with modern humor, and it all feels cheap and lazy, and it doesn’t elicit any laughs. It tries to be tongue-in-cheek about later historical events, but this type of irony is inherently lazy. There are a handful of clever moments, but for the most part, the jokes are either misguided or rely on their own shock value.
The movie features a famous cast, including people like Channing Tatum, Jason Mantzoukas, Olivia Munn, and Andy Samberg, but they don’t much with the material their given. Their voice performances aren’t bad, but they leave a lot to be desired at times. There is also an attempt by the movie to deliver social commentary about modern-day America, and while the attempt is appreciated, it feels wholly unoriginal in what it has to say.
A violent and raunchy retelling of American history had the promise to be a great work of satire, but this film grossly mishandles all of its potential. It tries too hard to be outrageous and adult that it forgets to be compelling and tell an interesting narrative. While there needs to be more adult-animated films and shows, this movie does not make a strong case for them.
America: The Motion Picture is bland and not as funny as it seems to be. It has its moments, but this is mostly overshadowed by the laziness of its writing throughout. It may appeal to fans of this director’s previous work, but most will be offput by its execution.
America: The Motion Picture is available on Netflix June 30.