“Americathon” is a delightful jumbled mess.
Yes, it is possible for a movie to be poorly constructed, yet have moments of inspired comedy. Not only that, but it has an incredibly funny and original concept.
The year is 1998 and America has gone bankrupt.
So naturally, they must have a telethon and auction off all of our national treasures.
This allows for comedy that is hit-or-miss, but the film’s overall experience is favorable.
President Chet Roosevelt is wonderfully played by John Ritter (“Hero at Large”). He brings his comical goofy charm to the role as the President that is more interested in the opposite sex than politics.
A far cry from reality, but feel free to stretch the imagination.
Enter, Eric McMurkin (Peter Riegert, “National Lampoon’s Animal House”), who is a college television studies professor, living out of his car. Since gas has been a rare commodity, the only use people have for their cars are to sleep in.
Although this film was made in 1979, a lot of its predictions seem to mirror reality.
Riegert is a decent actor that never got the acclaim he deserved. In this film, he gives a tired, lazy performance, which is rare. The character of McMurkin narrates the tale, but that voiceover is done by George Carlin (“Car Wash”) for some bizarre reason.
Thankfully, actor Harvey Korman, (“Blazing Saddles”) redeems the picture with his performance as Monty Rushmore. He is a drug-addicted game show host recruited to MC the Americathon. Korman, manages to spoof the people he has met in Hollywood, creating a mean-spirited and hysterical character.
It also includes a series of cameos that range from Jay Leno as Poopy Butt to Elvis Costello as himself.
The worst cameo is provided by Meatloaf, (“Fight Club”) as a man that wrestles a car. The scene is a real show-stopper of stupidity, unfortunately.
As we can see, Neal Israel (“Bachelor Party”) does a mediocre job at directing this film, as the actors work takes precedence over the sloppily-edited and organized film. Despite it all though, “Americathon” manages to turn into something that is well worth your time.
The film has a pretty good soundtrack featuring The Beach Boys. Their music creates an upbeat mood which allows you to go along with the silliness of the picture.
In a world of remakes, it is easy to admire a picture with such a solid and unique premise. Taken for what it is, a light fluffy comedy with a good cast then you really can’t go wrong by watching “Americathon.”
Unless you’re sleeping in your car.