HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Dark Phoenix
No Mercy
Arctic
Fate of Lee Khan, The
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Ladyworld
Rocketman
Kid Who Would Be King, The
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
America America
Darkest Minds, The
Along Came Jones
Hummingbird Project, The
Under the Table You Must Go
Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War
Hanging Tree, The
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare
Itsy Bitsy
Witchmaker, The
Prey, The
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium
Happy Death Day 2U
Full Moon High
Strange But True
Kamikaze 1989
Never Grow Old
Time of Your Life, The
Mountain Men, The
Epic
Best Before Death
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Isabelle
Non-Stop New York
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood
Oblomov
Alita: Battle Angel
We the Animals
Ibiza Undead
Wings of Eagles, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
   
 
  Americathon Your Crystal Ball Is CrackedBuy this film here.
Year: 1979
Director: Neal Israel
Stars: Harvey Korman, John Ritter, Fred Willard, Chief Dan George, Richard Schaal, Peter Riegert, Nancy Morgan, Zane Busby, Meat Loaf, Elvis Costello, Terence McGovern, Howard Hesseman, Jay Leno, Allan Arbus, David Opatoshu, George Carlin, Cybill Shepherd
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: We can pin the blame on the fuel crisis of the nineteen-seventies for how the future ended up. The United States of America ran out of money fast in the eighties, and everyone was forced to take up cycling, rollerskating or skateboarding to get around, since most were living in their cars, which had become the latest low cost housing now hardly anyone could afford an actual house. As for the powers that be, China had become the dominant superpower, and the Middle East had finally set aside its differences as the Arabs and Jews united to create a superstate, one which was seeking to sabotage America. They needn't have bothered, as the government there had borrowed billions from an Indian Chief, and he wanted his money back...

You could well observe nothing dates like yesterday's satire, and satire predicting how the planet was going to wind up was even less durable. Take Americathon, for instance, they got the rise of China right, but everything else they conjured up was desperately grounded in 1979, making this far more of a time capsule of the targets for humour in that decade than it had anything to do with 1998, when the film was set. Not helping was that to put across the gags was a bunch of talent that would remind audiences they could watch them all on television instead of traipsing off to the cinema to watch them deliver mild jokes posing as a ruthless takedown of politics and society it aspired to be.

John Ritter, then riding high in the ratings in sitcom Three's Company, played President Roosevelt - that's Chet Roosevelt, not either of the others, an idiot, basically, who is more keen on sleeping around than he is coming up with viable ideas to save his nation (which now includes Great Britain as the fifty-seventh state). Nevertheless, when the axe is about to fall, he does bring in a media expert, Eric McMerkin (Peter Riegert), who proposes a way to get the money: Americans love watching television, therefore what better way to raise the necessary billions in funds than a telethon - "Americathon!" as Chet Christens it? However, there is a saboteur in league with the Middle East, Vincent Vanderhoff (Fred Willard) who may be in the Cabinet but is in the pay of America's enemies, and he means to prevent the cash flowing in.

In practice this means rendering the telethon as a cross between the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy charity drive and The Gong Show (Chuck Barris gets a mention, though isn't seen), presenting acts so downmarket that nobody in their right mind would pledge anything - they'd be more likely to pledge to take the thing off the air. Which left the movie in something of a dilemma, as it was trying to be very smart, but in doing so was putting on deliberately poor and idiotic entertainments as objects of ridicule, except we were simultaneously asked to be diverted by them, sort of a having their cake and eating it too operation. What Elvis Costello thought about being part of a fictional TV show of garbage goes unrecorded, but at least Harvey Korman as the presenter Monty Rushmore was in on the joke.

Indeed, he improvised the sole moment of genuine laughter in the whole thing as he gets rid of a poor impressionist by passionately kissing him - you can tell it's improvised by the comedian's reaction and the band in the background cracking up. But mostly we were not so much watching low rent acts one after the other, as there was the behind the scenes business to concern us as Vanderhoff contrives to shut the power off (the audience keeps watching for five days anyway) and even going as far as kidnapping Chet, which backfires when the Government can't afford the ransom and certainly aren't going to take it out of the charity funds. This was based on a stage show by members of the Firesign Theater, adapted to the screen by others including director Neal Israel (soon to strike it lucky with Police Academy), and the fact it was dated within a year of its release gives you an idea of how it plays now that Jimmy Carter quips are less relevant these days. Though you do get to see Jay Leno box his (screen) mother, and Meat Loaf duel the last car in America. Music by Tom Scott.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1508 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: