Movie Review: “Mister America” allows Tim Heidecker cultists to imagine their hero running for office

 

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“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.

Sound familiar?

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!”

Charming.

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.

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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.

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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

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10 Responses to Movie Review: “Mister America” allows Tim Heidecker cultists to imagine their hero running for office

  1. krawdawg says:

    Why would you review something you don’t even understand?

    • You are claiming to “understand” something that isn’t worth intellectualizing. Humor is subjective and in the eye and ear of the beholder and all. But this is lazy, sloppily constructed, tin-eared writing and generally a waste of time.

    • Seems to have limited theatrical this month, VOD in its future. The publicist who sent it could have been a studio whistleblower, for all the details she or he included with the reviewing link.

  2. critterjams says:

    how much did Rosetti pay you

  3. PeterB says:

    It’s so fascinating to me how many people don’t get the essence of the bit. Tim & Gregg have built an entire universe that is a throw-up of influencer culture in the internet era – people assuming a position of self-proclaimed authority – while repeatedly exposing their underlying ineptitude. The movie is a natural extension of the universe they’ve created, where their thin veneers of professionalism and competence is continually undermined, but maintained through their own complete lack of self-awareness. If you find unmerited hubris at all funny, welcome to your new favorite comedy series.

    I won’t pretend to be new to this world – I’ve been watching On Cinema since the “Trial of Tim Heidecker”, but if anyone thinks this avant-garde comedy a miss, I invite them to return to network sitcoms and rewarm their half-attentive senses on the predictable setup-punchlines written by committee.

    • You might want to consider that we — critics in general, and non cultists — “get it,” that we see better examples of the sorts of spoof/social criticism/satire they’re aiming for half a dozen times a year. And that this isn’t funny and they aren’t funny. “Avante garde” my ass. “Entertainment?” THAT was avante garde.
      But to the point of several people commenting and going off on nasty, off-color tangents (not posting those here), this “throw-up of influencer culture” idea that you’re citing as the chief merit of their work at best has very finite limits. We should all be ignoring the Kardashians, on every level. Take that much further and the explanation of how we ended up with Trump (“I know as much or more than anybody”), an ignoramus who ignores expertise and considered, fact-backed opinions not your own.
      There are legitimate experts out there, not on reality TV, generally not on Youtube, rarely in the blogosphere. But some of us have put in the “10,000 hours” Malcolm Gladwell throws out there as necessary to “mastering” a subject.
      And while humor is utterly subjective — and the best reason to dismiss a review you don’t agree with — the tooth-aching artlessness and insidery “our universe” nature of the Tim/Eric et al humor is the reason their stuff never caught on. They don’t have piercing insights, and you don’t have special connection to something of great merit the rest of the world “doesn’t get.” Any more than the Bronies.

      • crackjournal says:

        I’m no Heidecker cultist, but I am a fan. There is something about the way that man can fumble through his lines, with a bombastic yet flat affect, and the grotesque characters that he creates that tickles me in places that other comics can rarely reach.

        I think I’m a slightly unusual member of his fan base in that I’m a bit older than he is and literally do not have a single friend who particularly likes him.

        I’m not a big fan of gross humor [easily triggered gag reflex], so Heidecker’s comedy has frequently tested the limits of my tolerance. Yet, despite the grossness throughout, I found Billion Dollar Movie to be brilliant and hilarious.

        I haven’t seen Mister America yet, so you have me at a disadvantage there, but I’m about to remedy that right now.

  4. Jack Johnson says:

    I have this one at six bags of popcorn, two sodas. Tim has the Midas touch: the same touch that brought Mark back to life will bring Oscar in 2020.

  5. elrond says:

    You didn’t even say what the runtime of the movie is, how can anyone take you seriously???

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