Socialist Worker

Outrageous satire can’t make up for outdated jokes in America: The Motion Picture

by Gabby Thorpe
Issue No. 2762

Superhero George Washington cant save this cartoon

Superhero George Washington can't save this cartoon


This is Netflix’s attempt to do what Adult Swim has been doing well for years.

George Washington goes on a mission to avenge the death of Abraham Lincoln—thus leading to the American Revolution.

He and the founding fathers use ridiculous science fiction powers to take on a werewolf Benedict Arnold. Clearly it’s nonsense, and as a concept sounds like it should be worth a watch.

There are plenty of decent adult cartoons that take a shot at America. Sadly, this is not one of them.

Instead, Netflix has produced something which could have come out ten years ago. It’s full of the kind of racism and sexism that Family Guy relies on.

It tries to let itself off the hook with black characters that point out how offensive it is. Rather than coming off as cleverly ironic, it just highlights how bad its own humour is. A good parody should expose the ridiculousness of the thing it’s taking aim at. This film instead puts all its energy into being as wild and outrageous as possible.

This would be easier to accept if anything clever was actually being said.

Instead it relies on how bizarre it is—and its all‑start cast—just to get by.

Even better moments—including the introduction of automatic weaponry which squarely takes on America’s gun culture—don’t come close to saving the film. Jokes that could provide a laugh miss their mark.

The movie is crammed full with so many ideas that it seems to get lost in its own sense of ingenuity.

A film that stretches the US self-image to its limit could be brilliant.

But lazy writing really lets it down.

The film is presumably trying to attack the culture of straight, white men. All it achieves is the sense that it was clearly written by and for straight, white men.

America: The Motion Picture, out now on Netflix

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.