Sunday, October 7, 2012

Americathon (1979)

Synopsis: It’s the 1990s, as foreseen through a crystal ball made of late-1970s cheese.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “It’s the 1990s and the world’s oil is gone. The United States Treasury is empty and a billionaire loan shark is about to foreclose on the nation explaining “we all gotta eat”. The solution: a telethon to save Uncle Sam from bankruptcy. With this as a launching pad, Americathon explodes into comic outer space. Written by Firesign Theatre veterans Phil Procter and Peter Bergman, this wicked and screamingly funny satire stars Harvey Korman, Fred Willard and Peter Riegert with a very funny special appearance by John Ritter as President of the United State.”

What Did I Learn?: “Puke rock” was the big musical trend in 1998.

You Might Like This Movie If: You’re glad this is a work of fiction; China would never become a capitalist world power, and America would never elect a lecherous President or wind up on the verge of bankruptcy. And the idea that the world could run out of cheap oil? Preposterous!

Really?: Americathon is a wacky social satire, so it isn’t meant to be taken all that seriously; I can overlook Israel merging with its Arab neighbours, or North Dakota becoming the first all-gay state. Still, if Mouling Jackson is supposed to be Vietnamese, wouldn’t it have made sense to hire an Asian actress for the part instead of Zane Buzby?

Rating: Chock full of celebrity cameos (Meat Loaf, Elvis Costello, Jay Leno, Howard Hesseman, and George Carlin, to name a few), Americathon is a long-forgotten, and utterly strange time capsule from Carter-era America. The film is awful for a lot of reasons (the biggest being that it’s not so much funny as loud, and everyone tries way too hard), but it’s worth viewing once, if only because Americathon is such a bizarre spectacle. 3/10 stars.

Would it Work For a Bad Movie Night?: You betcha!


1 comment:

  1. Seems to be they nailed the future. Clinton, oil problems, the rise of gay rights, bankruptcy...

    saying Ritter makes an appearance as President is a bit off in their own description...he was present throughout the movie...close to a lead role, I would say.
    - Mike


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