America: The Motion Picture America: The Motion Picture

America: The Motion Picture has been a long time coming. Announced in 2017 as Netflix’s first self-produced animated feature, the R-rated comedy has finally launched on the streamer more than four years later. According to critics, it wasn’t worth the wait.

Arriving shortly before Independence Day, the film offers a brash satirical retelling of the nation’s birth, complete with electric guitars, werewolves, and dick jokes. Netflix describes it as a “wildly tongue-in-cheek animated revisionist history.”

Matt Thompson, an executive producer on FX’s Archer, directs from a script by Dave Callaham (Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2). Producers include powerhouse duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Mitchells vs. the Machines). Archer studio Floyd County Productions, which Thompson co-founded, is responsible for the animation.

The cast includes Channing Tatum, Jason Mantzoukas, Olivia Munn, Bobby Moynihan, Judy Greer, Will Forte, Raoul Max Trujillo, Killer Mike, Simon Pegg, and Andy Sandberg.

America: The Motion Picture has been poorly received, with reviewers generally finding fault with its script, particularly its crude humor and ineffective satire. The film currently holds a 32% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes.

In a 2.5-star (out of four) review for RogerEbert.com, Brian Tallerico says the film’s tone is often “aggressive,” but finds things to like:

However, funny wins out over loud often enough. Mantzoukas, in particular, is just hysterical, a great comedic actor who infuses Sam Adams with just the right amount of macho inanity. Most of all, everyone here seems to really get what Thompson is going for, embracing the dumb side of America while playing some of its most historic figures. What’s more American than an action movie that includes beer and baseball in its biggest action sequence? One that also has a Robocop centaur, that’s what.

Amy Nicholson of The New York Times also thinks the film is aggressive, but sees no redeeming features in it:

Two nights before signing the Constitution, George Washington threw a celebratory rager where America’s founding father was said to have rung up a bar tab equivalent to $17,253. Our nation began with a hangover, a fact too factual to be included in America: The Motion Picture, a raunchy, aggressively inane cartoon that flips the bird — both onscreen and thematically — to a strain of patriotism that insists that men who profited from slavery were sober-minded heroes whose vision of democracy remains flawless, bro.

Inkoo Kang gives the film 1.5 stars out of four in The Washington Post, finding little to laugh at:

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 … [Archer] in its bracing early years exemplified stupid-smart comedy with its then-novel setting (a palimpsest of the 1960s, 1980s, and the 2010s) and its exuberantly inconsequential missions. Making a doomed Abraham Lincoln Washington’s best bud, Thompson and writer Dave Callaham bring that middle finger to historical fidelity here, to piffling effect.

Charles Bramesco compares the film unfavorably with Lord and Miller’s past productions in his two-out-of-five-star review for The Guardian:

[I]t’s all cast in a harder-to-love light due to adolescent nose-thumbing over giddy earnestness, the secret ingredient making Lord and Miller’s imagineering work. Their Lego Movie didn’t dig much deeper into the toy box, it just did so with a childlike enthusiasm that primed the audience by making them feel like kids again. This romp through the remixed American Revolution ages that kid into an acne-specked, body-odorous middle-schooler.

Polygon’s Samantha Nelson takes issue with not just the writing but the design, too:

There isn’t even much visually compelling about the film, which uses a blocky style similar to The Venture Bros. — the only similarity America: The Motion Picture bears to that much better work of action parody. America’s artwork is worse, though, thanks to a weird effect that makes the lines in all the characters’ chiseled jaws and bulging muscles glow in distracting ways. Even novel animations like a bloodthirsty soccer ball named Manchester just feel like gimmicks without purpose.

America: The Motion Picture

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