“Mister America” is a sequel to “On Cinema at the Cinema,” an intentionally bad, vigorously half-assed movie review show that went from podcast to web series, eventually part of the Adult Swim Cartoon Network brand.
It’s pretty much the definition of a “cult series,” cringe-worthy comedy with fans who follow its stars — Tim Heidecker (of “Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” and “Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories” etc.) and Gregg Turkington (of the dark and offbeat indie film “Entertainment”) — into other, spinoff projects such as “Decker,” an incompetent action-comedy, playing versions of themselves, the lazy, delusional and doltish Tim and movie-obsessed, weird and just-as-delusional Gregg.
And I’ve put more effort into reciting their credits than I ever have in digging into their shows. The deep dive dullness (irony) of their comedy never drew me in. I reviewed “Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie” when it came out and found it excruciating.
But then, I’m too cheap to imbibe or smoke whatever it is their fans are into that keep them tuned in and this “comic universe” employed.
“Mister America” is closer to genuine political satire, a droll but deathly-dull take on the worst candidate and worst campaign for office ever. And lest you confuse Tim for anybody else, he “ran” for District Attorney of San Bernadino, California, in this mockumentary.
This is after “On Cinema,” after “Decker,” after Tim and Gregg have had a falling out. One of Tim’s many details-disoriented later “schemes” was a desert music festival where the Chinese vapes the promoters (Tim) were giving to the crowd left a bunch of people dead.
Tim so resented being prosecuted for mass murder — he got off, thanks to a hung jury — that he’s running against DA Rosetti (Don Pecchia) out of spite and revenge.
But everything about this quixotic campaign is a fiasco. He doesn’t live in San Bernadino, so he’s “living” in a hotel, and running the campaign out of a hotel room.
“I don’t have to have lived here my entire life to know the problems” the place has. Those “problems?” “The rat” they have for a district attorney.
He has no volunteers to help him canvass for voters to get on the ballot. So irritable, rude, arrogant Tim is stuck going door to door, hailing people in parking lots, trying to get signatures.
“What’re you running for?”
“District attorney! Sorta like gov’ner,” he drawls. “I’m’o bring CHANGE!”
Punctuated by, “I’ve told you THREE times what I’m running for!”
There’s a sucker/press secretary/campaign manager (Terri Parks), stumbling from one media failure to the next. She’s so harried and hapless she can’t even place a newspaper ad, much less take dictation for this or that Tim “statement.”
The DA he is running against is ignoring him. The judge who oversaw the trial where Tim ineptly, angrily and ignorantly represented himself, bullied witnesses and threw tantrums…and won — retired.
Campaigning or strategizing, he can’t keep from contradicting himself within a single breath.
Drunk tweeting his rage at his inability to get attention? Been there, done that.
And then there’s this film crew, following him, mentioning that disastrous musical festival and digging into his past.
That “past” would be Gregg Turkington, who has stories about their TV efforts together, Tim’s general incompetence and the movie Gregg — who spends his days dumpster diving for VHS “classics” — figures that Tim’s campaign “is an unofficial remake of, “The Shaggy DA” (the Disney Dean Jones version, not the one with Tim Allen).
“Good thing you’ll never finish the movie and Tim’ll never see it,” Gregg crows. Gregg knows cinema.
Clumsy but not funny appearances, incompetent cell-phone video “ads” and appearances — also not funny — pad the picture.
This is tedium itself. Want to see this “delusional dunce failing, and dragging others down with him” thing done better? Hunt up the Steve Coogan Brit-series about Alan Partridge, whom we meet as he launches his national TV talk and variety show, and who fails and fails downward, into local radio, personal appearances as a “has been,” voicing over infomercials, the works.
Maybe that’s the ironic difference Heidecker & Co. are getting at here. In America, hustlers and con men like Tim don’t fail downward. They fail upward.
Hell, he might even get to be president some day.
But he has yet to show he can deliver anything the least bit amusing to the big screen.
MPAA Rating: R for language and some drug use.
Cast: Tim Heidecker, Terri Parks, Gregg Turkington, Don Pecchia
Credits: Directed by Eric Notarnicola, script by Tim Heidecker, Eric Notarnicola and Gregg Turkington. A Magnolia release.
Running time: 1:29