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Friday, September 28, 2012

Movies You Missed 58: FDR: American Badass!

Our weekly review of flicks that never reached Vermont theaters

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 7:15 PM

Barry Bostwick as FDR
  • Barry Bostwick as FDR

This week in movies you missed: The title says it all.

What You Missed

One day while hunting in the forest, Gov. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Barry Bostwick) is attacked by a werewolf. Being a badass, he defends himself manfully, but the critter still infects him with polio.

However, this was no ordinary werewolf ... it was carrying a copy of Mein Kampf, and serves as the first clue that the foreign werewolves known as Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito are plotting world domination. To take them on, FDR — or “the Delano,” as he prefers to call himself — must win the presidency, repeal Prohibition and get himself a rocket-powered wheelchair engineered by Albert Einstein. Oh, and cope with Eleanor’s lack of sexual interest in his “shriveled-up hot-dog legs,” as she tactfully puts it.

Why You Missed It

Straight to DVD.

Should You Keep Missing It?

I love the idea of this movie. We need FDR: American Badass! for at least two reasons: (1) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter took itself way too seriously; and (2) We’re hearing a lot of neo-con scoffing at the whole concept of the New Deal this election cycle. Maybe it’s time for FDR to stand up for the social safety net he wove — yeah, like a badass.

And some people do love this movie. They’re calling it an “instant cult classic.” Comparing it to Airplane!.

In my view, a better point of comparison would be a present-day “Saturday Night Live” sketch; both the production values and the writing of Garrett Brawith’s spoof are about on that level. That is to say, it’s just not that funny.

Granted, Brawith and writer Ross Patterson throw a ton of wackiness, silliness and bad taste at the screen, and all the actors, especially Bostwick, seem to be enjoying the hell out of it. (Ray Wise, aka Leland Palmer, plays Douglas MacArthur; and Kevin Sorbo is Abe Lincoln.) But the movie isn’t a satire of anything, such as presidential hagiography or opportunistic pop-culture mash-ups where presidents become action heroes. This is not Idiocracy; it’s basically just an excuse to be irreverent with American historical iconography and throw scattershot one-liners and sight gags at the screen.

And I mean really scattershot. It’s amusing at first to hear FDR say things like “The Delano needs to get all Fireside Chat up in this bitch.” And then it’s not. Patterson relies way too much on comic anachronisms, balls-out ethnic stereotypes (too surreal to be offensive, but not that funny, either), random boob shots and raunch, and groaners (“Did you debrief him?” “Yes, I hate when I have to take off his briefs.”).

The central joke — that wheel-chair-bound, cigarette-lighter-sporting, populist FDR is a macho badass obsessed with his own sexual prowess — never gains any shadings. I can imagine Will Ferrell going somewhere with this premise and making Badass FDR an actual character with a story arc. Brawith and Patterson just milk it over and over.

Verdict: Just a suspicion: This movie could be funnier stoned. Such is the not-so-subliminal suggestion of a scene where FDR and Lincoln’s ghost partake of some of George Washington’s finest weed.

More New DVD Releases

“American Horror Story,” season 1 (pure craziness)

Damsels in Distress

Delicacy (Audrey Tautou is a widow finding romance.)

Drunkboat (John Malkovich plays a drunk trying to put his life back together.)

Eddie Izzard: Live at MSG

Klown (man-child shenanigans from Denmark)

The Letter (Winona Ryder and James Franco in a psycho-thriller)

The Man from Beijing (Swedish mystery based on a novel)

“Portlandia,” season 2

Resident Evil: Damnation (CGI-animated version with no apparent connection to the theatrical series)

The Samaritan (Samuel L. Jackson “confronts his criminal past.”)

She Wants Me (Hollywood comedy with Hilary Duff, exec produced by Charlie Sheen)

Snowman’s Land (“Tarantino-esque” thriller set in the Carpathian mountains.)

Soldiers of Fortune (Christian Slater takes some 1 percenters on a war-game adventure that turns deadly.)

The Tempest (Stratford Shakespeare Festival version with Christopher Plummer)

Each week in "Movies You Missed," I review a brand-new DVD release picked for me by Seth Jarvis, buyer for Burlington's Waterfront Video, where you can obtain these fine films. (In central Vermont, try Downstairs Video.)

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About The Author

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison

Bio:
Margot Harrison is the Associate Editor at Seven Days; she coordinates literary and film coverage. In 2005, she won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.

More by Margot Harrison

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