“Mister America” Never Finds The Laughs


There’s an acquired taste to the comedy of Tim Heidecker. The actor and comedian, primarily known for his work on the Adult Swim program Tim and Eric Awesome Show, has also ventured into films with efforts such as The Comedy. To call these items divisive would be an understatement. Now, this week brings a new work of his in Mister America, one that’s perhaps less bizarre than his other works, though no less strange. Unfortunately, while it may, on the surface, seem like his most accessible flick, it’s also his most toothless. Despite a committed effort on his part, very little clicks here.

The movie is a mockumentary, poking fun at the political process, as well as certain modern day candidates. “Tim Heidecker” (played by Heidecker) is a slightly fictionalized version of the man, here a concert promoter, after beating a murder rap for selling lethal e-cigarettes to attendees at an EDM festival he created, opts to run for office against the man who prosecuted him. In Tim’s crosshairs are San Bernardino District Attorney Vincent Rosetti (Don Pecchia), who considers the campaign to unseat him a joke. Tim’s effort is fueled by total ego, ignorance, and revenge, as he’s wholly unqualified, as well as hated by the community, but that doesn’t stop him. As he heads out into the world to try and drum up support, folks like Gregg Turkington (Turkington) pop up to remind us how horrid he truly is. Eric Notarnicola directs and co-writes with the duo of Heidecker and Turkington. Other cast members include Terri Parks, Mark Proksch, Inger Tudor, and Curtis Webster, while the cinematography is by Gabriel Patay.

You’re either on board with Tim Heidecker and his style or you’re not. Here, I was not. Frankly, the film is just not funny at all. Heidecker is hoping to ape the style popularized by Sacha Baron Cohen, but his would be satire never connects like Cohen was able to, in particular with his smash hit Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Here, we’re treated to Heidecker repeatedly riffing on why Rosetti is a rat, while ignoring how awful he is. There’s potential humor to be mined here, but Heidecker, Notarnicola, and Turkington never discover the recipe.

Mister America is clearly going for satire, but it almost entirely misses the mark. Whatever point the trip is trying to make about politics, political correctness, and the modern world, you never really see it bubble to the surface. Too often, we just see an overlong scene that runs right past where the joke ends, becoming a chore to sit through. This sort of uncomfortable comedy is a hallmark of Heidecker’s, I realize that, but you need to actually be funny as well. Despite a premise that suggests ample opportunity to skewer the system, it never comes together. The few jokes that hit almost seem to do so by accident. The movie plays the same note over and over, but it’s a shrill one, to say the least.

As of today, fans of Heidecker can see him take on election season with Mister America. Unless you’re a die hard, there’s really no reason to do so, however. What laughter there is here, it’s sporadic. There’s a good idea at the center of this film, but it remains mostly hidden throughout. Political satire can be one of the best forms of comedy, but this flick is mostly indifferent to entertainment. It’ll appeal to the absolute core of Heidecker’s fans but few others. If you count yourself among his fandom, perhaps give this one a look. Otherwise, it’s simply not worth your time.


Mister America is in theaters now.

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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