Tell me if you’ve heard this before: A chainsaw-wielding George Washington teams up with beer-loving bro Sam Adams to take down the Brits in a tongue-in-cheek riff on the American Revolution. Oh, and Channing Tatum plays George Washington. No? That’s what I thought. Well, that’s exactly what happens in America: The Motion Picture, an R-rated parody film loosely based on the Founding Fathers of the United States. It was directed by Matt Thompson in his feature film directorial debut and features Tatum alongside Jason Mantzoukas, Olivia Munn, Bobby Moynihan, and Judy Greer, amongst others.
This adult animated science fiction comedy is available on Netflix now, and critics have started sharing their reviews, so let’s check them out.
Let's start, as always, with the home team. CinemaBlend's own Dirk Libbey thinks that the premise of America: The Motion Picture is funny, and there are a few funny jokes, but they're buried among way too many other unfunny jokes. He also argues that the movie is too surface level and doesn't actually have anything to say. For instance, there are a few jokes from POC characters about how the white characters are totally racist (which they are), but those jokes don't even try to get to anything deeper and they aren't clever. Overall, Libbey remarked:
America: The Motion Picture has a hilarious premise. Unfortunately, most of the hilarity ends there.
John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter was less than enthusiastic about America: The Motion Picture, to say the least. He enjoyed some of the throwaway gags, but he argued that many of the movie references that the comedy packs into its hour-and-a-half-long runtime just end up beating viewers over the head. And he noted that there’s a complete lack of any kind of coherent comic vision. DeFore said:
There’s a limit to how much trenchant satire you can work into a story built on an F-student’s sense of historical context.
Samantha Nelson from Polygon also had her fair share of criticisms for the adult comedy, noting that it “fails at just about everything.” She criticized the characters for being so self-absorbed that viewers don’t have to care about anyone, and noted that the humor is either just bad or offensive throughout the entire film. Nelson said:
Any goodwill provided by the concept or cast is utterly squandered by a film that packs in endless references without having anything whatsoever to say.
Inkoo Kang of The Washington Post rated the comedy 1.5 out of 4 stars, and though she thought it was occasionally clever, it was mostly just lazy. She does note that there are a few character-developing reveals, but that they’re too predictable. Overall, Kang said:
The gulf between stupid-smart and just plain stupid feels immeasurably vast when watching America: The Motion Picture, which is clearly aiming for the former but lands squarely in the latter.
William Hughes from AV Club thinks that the animated comedy just isn’t very funny. He did laugh occasionally at some gags, but noted that the movie becomes too crowded with jokes, and it lacks any kind of comedic coherence. Hughes said:
America is almost always fun to gawk at, even when the writing is letting it down. But that writing is a real problem.
Chris Vognar from the San Francisco Chronicle basically felt like America: The Motion Picture just vomited a bunch of jokes onto the screen, and that’s it. He noted that the comedy lacked any kind of cleverness or logic, and simply wasn’t funny. Vognar noted:
Aggressively stupid, and in love with its own juvenile instincts, Netflix’s animated Independence Day bash mistakes the outrageous for the hilarious, the anachronistic for the creative.
Well, to put it lightly, it would seem like critics do not like America: The Motion Picture. You can see for yourself right now, as it's available on Netflix.
If you're eager for some more Channing Tatum, check out his other upcoming movies.