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America: The Motion Picture Review: Red White And Lewd

Sometimes, you just want to watch something stupid. Something so absurd, infantile, crude and rude that it is best paired with your favorite mood-altering substance (or, if you're British, a strong cup of Earl Grey) and the realization that whatever the people who made it were on when they drafted the script, their stuff is way more potent. Normally, such a mood would result in a viewing of "Step Brothers," "Billy Madison," "Team America: World Police" or perhaps "Dude, Where's My Car?" But now there's a new half-baked cult classic on the block: "America: The Motion Picture."

Like the films mentioned above, you simply need to give it five minutes — by then, you'll either be fully invested, or pressing the off button on your TV remote so hard you'll strain a finger. The animated flick (featuring celebrity voices from the likes of Channing Tatum, Simon Pegg, and Andy Samberg) plays like history class being taught by a person coming off a three-day bender and severe head trauma — but if the character name "Fred X. Kinko" or the thought of Geronimo booking a vacation home on "Air T&P" makes you snort, this is your kind of stupid.

The Netflix movie from Matt Thompson (the mastermind behind the criminally-underrated "Frisky Dingo") says it's "based on actual history." It seems unlikely, however, that John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Lin-Manuel Miranda attended Abe Lincoln's funeral while Martha Washington performed an acoustic version of the Bangles' "Eternal Flame" and a blanket was draped over the coffin bearing the message "Hang in there, baby."

The movie begins simply enough, with Lincoln (Will Forte) and George Washington (Tatum) attending a show by the "Red, White and Blue Man Group" while Lincoln considers buying an "I survived Ford's Theater" t-shirt from the John Wilkes Merch Booth. Naturally, Lincoln has his throat ripped out by Benedict Arnold (Samberg), who is a werewolf. Feel free to re-read that paragraph again and take a moment with it if you need to.

The British don't want us to start our own country. George Washington is determined to launch a democracy under the motto "something, something without representation."

Americans, Assemble!

In no time, our nation's first president (after hopping into bed with Martha and getting her instantaneously pregnant) is hard at work recruiting a dream team to bring to life Honest Abe's last word: America. But not before he unleashes chainsaws out of his wrists, Wolverine-style, and slices through a bunch of redcoats while declaring "That cherry tree didn't chop itself down!"

He then gets to work recruiting a dream team. Samuel Adams (the national treasure known as Jason Mantzoukas) is a somewhat racist ... okay, very racist ... party dude. Paul Revere (Bobby Moynihan) is an underground horse racer who lives his life "one quarter mule at a time." Thomas Edison (Olivia Munn) is an electricity-wielding sorcerer — and a woman. When the group recruits Geronimo (Raoul Max Trujillo from "Mayans M.C.") he questions: "What's the plan? And does it involve Doritos?'

What follows is a breezy 90 minutes filed with jokes about not only every historical figure you can recall (Johnny Appleseed is glimpsed on a battlefield, chomping on apples and spitting the seeds machine-gun-style at the British troops), but also such random pop culture as "Reservoir Dogs," Star Wars, the Patrick Swayze canon and "Mad Max: Fury Road." If you enjoy classic spoof films like "Airplane!" be sure to pause whenever something can be read in the background, because "America" hides its best jokes to be discovered by those who put forth extra effort.

If you make it to the point where King James is deploying a ravenous soccer ball to eat people on his behalf, you'll most likely be immersed in this absurd film to the point where it all kind of makes sense. A montage with Washington hacking into a computer using a typewriter shows a "screen" with 3 Whammies from "Press Your Luck"; there's a strip club called "Mount Lust More" and a blacksmith shop called "I'd Hit That." A running gag has somebody mentioning something like a car and everyone says "What's that?" but then another character will make a Kelly Ripa joke or claim Edison is scheduled to invent the internet next week.

The Founding Fighter

Then there's the lewdness. This film is peppered with four-letter words, inappropriate for most ages content, decapitations, nudity, and at least one reference to Lincoln's log. It all leads to an awesome climactic battle scored to the Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)," in which George and his fellow patriots wage war against the British (who have double-decker bus AT-ATs and a kaiju Big Ben) using AR-15s he purchased at Y'all Mart.

The voice work is terrific, the actors all seem to be having a lot of fun delivering their lines, and if one joke doesn't work there's always another around the corner. Perhaps the best character is Paul Revere, who spends most of the film as a dim-witted social outcast, but is reinvented at the end to become some sort of centaur RoboCop. As with so much else in this film, you just need to go with it.

The movie is funny, no doubt. But at the end of the day, it might actually serve a valuable purpose. With a release timed to the 4th of July, "America: The Motion Picture" eventually emerges with a simple message: Our country has its issues, sure. But it's also an endearing, fragile experiment that warrants fierce protection.

When Washington founds the country, questions immediately begin about gun control, slaves, gay rights and other issues. Geronimo is depicted as wearily knowing that when all this is over, Native Americans will once again get the shaft; Edison similarly acknowledges that women (and the concept of science) will have a tough time in this new country. In its own goofy way, "America" acknowledges its titular nation is intrinsically problematic, while simultaneously insisting it is well-intentioned enough that — for a few precious moments — sometimes you should just grab a beer bong and get lost in the fireworks.