America: The Motion Picture review: A beer-chugging good time

AMERICA: THE MOTION PICTURE - (L-R) Killer Mike as "Blacksmith", Oliva Munn as "Thomas Edison", Jason Mantzoukas as "Samuel Adams", Channing Tatum as "George Washington", Bobby Moynihan as "Paul Revere" and Raoul Max Trujillo as "Geronimo". Cr: America, The Motion Picture, LLC. © 2021
AMERICA: THE MOTION PICTURE - (L-R) Killer Mike as "Blacksmith", Oliva Munn as "Thomas Edison", Jason Mantzoukas as "Samuel Adams", Channing Tatum as "George Washington", Bobby Moynihan as "Paul Revere" and Raoul Max Trujillo as "Geronimo". Cr: America, The Motion Picture, LLC. © 2021 /

The Fourth of July is right around the corner, which always spells action-packed blockbusters and military-centric films hitting theaters over the holiday weekend. Still reeling in the wake of the insurrection at the capital and widespread protests across the nation, though, the kind of American-as-apple-pie blockbuster one might expect for a 4th of July release hardly feels like the kind of film anyone is interested in seeing right now.

Enter stage left, Netflix’s America: The Motion Picture, an Uber-violent animated retelling of the American revolution that takes some… drastic creative liberties, to say the least. With an all-star voice cast, a biting, self-aware wit, and a little good old-fashioned American ingenuity, America: The Motion Picture is a riotous reimagining of the early days of our nation.

After witnessing the brutal murder of his best friend Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte) at the hands of traitor/werewolf Benedict Arnold (Andy Samberg), a muscled-up George Washington (Channing Tatum) assembles a crack team of revolutionaries including Samuel Adams (Jason Mantzoukas), Thomas Edison (Olivia Munn), and Paul Revere (Bobby Moynihan). Together, with the help of Geronimo (Raoul Trujillo) and a John Henry Smith (Killer Mike), the hard-headed, beer-chugging revolutionaries set out to rescue George’s pregnant wife Martha (Judy Greer) from the clutches of Arnold and the diabolical King James (Simon Pegg).

If so much as reading that summary a little off to you, that’s because America: The Motion Picture plays fast and loose with history – to put it mildly. The entire film is just one big jumble of all things American, and in keeping with that obsession with the red-white-and-blue, some historical details get a little muddled.

There’s the obvious inclusion of Lincoln being best friends with Washington – a president born nearly 100 years before him, as well as the film swapping George III for Pegg’s King James – a clever, tongue-in-cheek way of poking fun at the now-notorious stereotype of Americans being clueless when it comes to geography and world history.

Some of the other changes, though, are less poking fun at Americans and more straight-up insanity for the sake of it – Benedict Arnold is a werewolf, Paul Revere is a robocop-esque android fusion with his beloved horse, and Thomas Edison is actually a woman who’s about to be burned at the stake because her experiments are mistakenly believed to be witchcraft. And those are just the major plot points – the film is littered with pop culture references (everything from Star Wars to The Fast and the Furious) and smaller, gag-specific anachronisms that make DC’s Legends of Tomorrow look tame by comparison.

America: The Motion Picture also gets much of its juice from its R rating – riding the high of the uber-violent animated series Invincible to deliver some truly gory fight sequences, as well as a raunchy sex scene between George and Martha Washington and a plethora of F-bombs dropped by America’s most esteemed figureheads. The film is constantly dialed up to 11, but the sheer intensity and insanity of it all only helps add to the satirical wit and genuine gung-ho spirit that propels America: The Motion Picture to success.

As strong as the writing is, though (and it’s razor tight – the film flies by and never wastes a second of its hour and 38-minute runtime), the strength of the voice cast is what really puts America: The Motion Picture over the edge.

At the heart of it all is Channing Tatum’s George Washington – an earnest if a little air-headed himbo of a president, whose charisma drives the film to success. Other standouts include Olivia Munn’s science-wielding Thomas Edison (whose character serves as one of the film’s many conduits for addressing America’s past and present failings towards marginalized groups including women and people of color), beer-chugging frat bro Sam Adams (in a cast chock full of comedic talent, many of the film’s best gags go to Mantzoukas) and Judy Greer ad George’s wife Martha, whose affection for her husband is rivaled only by the size of her heaving bosom.

When the villain of your American history film is a werewolf who intends to turn the entire world British by steeping them in tea, any attempts at sanity or cohesion fly out the window – but despite the sheer madness of its premise, America: The Motion Picture remains remarkably focused in both its critique and celebration of America as a nation, and can at times be remarkably poignant among the chaos and camp of it all.

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Goofy, raunchy, and just this side of insane – America: The Motion Picture is the perfect celebration of what it means to be an American. Eat you heart out, Hamilton.