History takes on a different spin in Netflix's adult cartoon America: The Motion Picture from director Matt Thompson. The R-rated animated film arrives from the pen of Dave Callaham. A chainsaw-wielding George Washington (Channing Tatum) enjoying a bromance with Abraham Lincoln. One fateful night Benedict Arnold (Andy Samberg), who is actually a werewolf, murders Honest Abe. Following orders from the evil King James (Simon Pegg), Benedict hopes to stop America from becoming a county.
Washington assembles a team of rabble-rousers — including beer-loving bro Sam Adams, famed scientist Thomas Edison (Olivia Munn), acclaimed equestrian Paul Revere (Bobby Moynihan), and a very pissed off Geronimo (Raoul Max Trujillo) — to defeat Benedict Arnold and King James in the American Revolution. Who will win? No one knows, but you can be sure of one thing: these are not your father's Founding… uh, Fathers.
Matt Thompson, a producer on the cult series, Archer makes his directorial debut with the film. While I have never seen the series, Archer, I am aware of the show's animation style and general vibe. Thompson carries over that same vibe to his feature debut, and the results are, well, that depends on how much you can suspend your disbelief. When the film starts out by letting the audience know that George Washington and Abe Lincoln are buddies, most historians will raise an eyebrow. George Washington died in 1799, and Abraham Lincoln was born in 1804, so there was no way for them to have ever had contact.
However, if you can look past the silly “alternative facts” in the film, you may have a good time. After the Washington & Lincoln meeting, you see the two enter Ford's Theater, complete with a "Ford Logo" attending a Hip Hop style musical. There are even vendors selling T-shirts at the show. Its little jokes like this made me crack a smile, and it is clear that Channing Tatum and crew are having a grand time poking fun at history. Some of the jokes are META and land very well. Particularly George's back and forth banter with Frat Boy Sam Adams or learning to trust a woman who is brighter than he is.
One of the highlights in the film for me was Killer Mike, who voices a blacksmith. Washington and crew enlist his help to construct a silver bullet since Arnold is a werewolf, after all. I actually would have preferred Killer Mike in the lead, as his character's arc and motivation could have made for a much better film. Nevertheless, the film's writer and director keep the run time under ninety minutes and never allow the comedy to become absurd. I want to point out that the film is R-rated, and some jokes touch on racism, sexual innuendos, and f-bombs galore. That said, PARENTS make your own decision before letting your kids partake in the film.
Like most R-rated animated adult comedies, America: The Motion Picture will not be for all tastes.
Nevertheless, if you are a fan of Archer and are looking for a laugh and a quick way to waste 90 mins, give it a view.
Final Grade: C+
America: The Motion Picture will be available to stream on Netflix tomorrow, June 30th .