Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
"Americathon" is a puerile exploitation of one very thin joke during 98 very long minutes. It is accompanied by a short subject that is part of the National Endowment for the Arts' new project to get shorts into movie theaters. If their shorts continue to be played with features like "Americathon," they will, alas, still remain unseen.
The movie's about America in 1998, when the gas shortage has completely eliminated the auto, except as a possession you can park permanently and live in. Bicycling and jogging and roller-skating are the means of transportation, and the country is in hock for $400 billion to an ancient Indian (Chief Dan George) who's cornered the roller-skate market.
What to do? Better still, how to care about an idea that might stretch to a four-minute sketch but hardly to feature length? The challenge had to be faced by director Neil Israel, whose previous credits include "Tunnelvision." That movie had a Procter and Bergman sketch in it about a charity marathon to save New York. Why not, Israel asked, make a whole movie about a marathon to save America?
He has. And he's overpopulated his movie with hundreds of comic characters: a berserk master of ceremonies and a lustful President and the usual would-be zany presidential advisers. A lot of this movie feels directly but not cleverly ripped off from "Putney Swope" and the deservedly obscure "The Virgin President." There are "jokes" involving a government computer that casts the Americathon with dozens of ventriloquists, and about Chinese fast-food stands and warring Arabs and sexy double agents from Vietnam.