|Directed by||Eric Notarnicola|
On Cinema at the Cinema
|Edited by||Sascha Stanton-Craven|
|Distributed by||Magnolia Pictures|
Mister America is a 2019 American mockumentary film starring Tim Heidecker as a man who defeats a mass murder charge due to the deaths of several concert-goers at a festival he hosted and then mounts an unsuccessful campaign to unseat the San Bernardino district attorney that attempted to imprison him. The film is an extension of the On Cinema at the Cinema universe, in which Heidecker portrays a fictionalized version of himself who reviews movies with fellow comedian Gregg Turkington. The film has received mixed reviews from critics.
Tim Heidecker is the host of the Web series On Cinema at the Cinema, where he and a cast of guests review films. After transitioning to being an electronic musician and hosting a music festival, he faces murder charges when 20 people overdose and die at the event and an additional 156 were hospitalized. He ends up beating the charge with a hung jury mistrial and sets out to become district attorney of San Bernardino County, despite not being an attorney or a resident of San Bernardino and to take revenge on Vincent Rosetti, the prosecutor of his case.
The film begins with a small crew following Heidecker going door to door to drum up enough signatures for him to be on the ballot as a third party candidate. He works with his campaign manager Toni Newman who was also the sole juror to not find Heidecker guilty at his murder trial. The duo have an ad campaign made up of social media posts and yard signs mocking Rosetti as a rat and Heidecker briefly confronts him on camera before the D. A. drives away with no comment. Heidecker starts to crack under the pressure, excessively drinking and using the TCH vape system that has previously addicted him and was responsible for killing the youth at his music festival.
Newman attempts to get press coverage that falls through at the last minute, fails to buy an ad in the local paper on time, and attempts to stage a debate where neither of Heidecker's opponents attend. Among the six crowd members is Heidecker's frequent guest host from On Cinema at the Cinema, Gregg Turkington. Turkington reaches out to the film crew to convince them to abandon the project and see Heidecker as a criminal and failure who has no passion for film. Heidecker has a meltdown and storms out of the event. Even though he and Newman forge several signatures, his name does not appear on the ballot and Rosetti is re-elected.
In a drug-induced haze, Heidecker calls Rosetti from the hotel room that doubles as his campaign headquarters and starts out gracefully conceding and offering congratulations before devolving into insults and threats. He passes out and the next day, he takes the crew to the condemned site of the music festival, where he creates a makeshift memorial to the youth who died.
- Tim Heidecker as Tim Heidecker, host of On Cinema at the Cinema who runs for district attorney of San Bernardino County after narrowly avoiding being convicted of murder
- Terri Parks as Toni Newman, Heidecker's campaign manager and moral support
- Gregg Turkington as Gregg Turkington, a colleague of Heidecker, regular guest and resident film expert on On Cinema at the Cinema
- Curtis Webster as Judge Edward Symczyk, judge at Heidecker's trial
- Don Pecchia as District Attorney Vincent Rosetti, lead prosecutor at Heidecker's trial
- Indidi Amadi as Indidi, a concerned citizen of San Bernardino
- Eric Notarnicola as Josh Lorton, the interviewer
Production and release
The filmmakers preferred using non-actors to elicit genuine responses and the impression of a real documentary film and auditioned around 10 actresses for the part of Toni, on Gregg's recommendation. The acting was largely improvised from a minimal script and evolved from a prospective Web special into a full-length feature film spontaneously. While editing, the filmmakers looked for opportunities to include backstory in the documentary that would make it more accessible to viewers who were not familiar with the Web series. Setting the film in the diverse and Hispanic-heavy San Bernardino County was contrasted with Heidecker's ignorant and xenophobic policies based on the Donald Trump administration, along with his toxic masculinity. Interior filming was shot in the San Gabriel Valley.
At Rotten Tomatoes, which assigns a percentage of reviewers who recommend seeing the film, Mister America received a score of 64, based on 25 reviews. Mister America was met with mixed reviews from critics noted at review aggregator Metacritic. This film received an weighted average score of 42 out of 100, based on 11 reviews. In a positive review, David Weigel of The Washington Post wrote "Mister America is the devastating Trump satire America deserves." Writing for Variety, Peter Debruge gave the film a negative review, calling it "lazy" and writing that "nothing here feels like it took much effort", feeling disappointed by the high standard of quality that On Cinema at the Cinema set. Candice Frederick of TheWrap criticized the film for not being explicit enough in its political criticism: "Mister America merely underscores recognizable themes that are no less irritating in mockumentary form than they are in real life: White supremacy, miscarriages of justice and racial disenfranchisement in a community where the leaders have all but abandoned minority residents. But the film needs to say something about it rather than merely hold up a mirror to it."
In The New York Times, Ben Kenigsberg gave the film a mixed review, writing that it has "inspired moments throughout" but "face challenges of momentum", as "Tim’s ignorance, insensitivity and ill-fitting tailoring aren’t really good for 90 minutes of laughs". Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A. V. Club gave the film a C+, calling it a disappointment and summarizing, "In the end, it comes across as an inessential entry in a canon that has often bordered on genius". Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Frank Scheck gave a very negative review, saying the film has "nary a single genuinely funny moment".
For The Week, both Andy Crump and Brendan Morrow gave positive assessments, with the former calling it, "unsettingly real", writing that the satire succeeds "too well, both for its own good and the good of the audience". Morrow called it one of 2019's best comedies, writing that it's "consistently funny" and a valuable expansion to the On Cinema at the Cinema universe. Scott Tobias of NPR also praised the film as a densely-insular series of in-jokes that may not be welcoming to new viewers but "will nonetheless survive as a fascinating artifact of the Trump era, when the rules of politics were revised to give boors and charlatans a pathway to power—even if, like Heidecker, it's only in their own minds."
On Cinema at the Cinema awarded the film only a collective 3 bags of popcorn with Tim Heidecker recommending that audiences "avoid it at all costs" and Gregg Turkington, in a rare 3 bag review, calling the film "definitely a very, very bad and very disappointing movie."
- 2018 California elections
- The Shaggy D.A., a film that Turkington repeatedly compares to Heidecker's campaign
- "Mister America". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
- Strauss, Bob (October 4, 2019). "How Mister America, a Political Spoof Set in San Bernardino, Anticipated Vaping Bans and Impeachment Inquiries". San Bernardino Sun. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
- Lang, Bret (July 1, 2019). "Magnolia Nabs Mister America, Political Comedy from On Cinema Creators (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- "Mister America Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
- Smith, Daniel (October 4, 2019). "Inside Mister America and Tim Heidecker's Ill-Fated Run for San Bernardino DA". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
- Rinaldi, Peter (October 15, 2019). "Back to One, Episode 79: Tim Heidecker". Retrieved October 19, 2019.
- Scheetz, Cameron (October 10, 2019). "Tim Heidecker on Vapes, World-Building, and the On Cinema-Verse". The A. V. Club. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
- Butkovic, Leanne (October 11, 2019). "Mister America Is a Hilarious Sadsack Extension of the On Cinema Universe". Thrillist. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- Marlborough, Patrick (October 25, 2019). "Mister America Is Trump's Most Scathing Satire Without Even Mentioning His Name". Vice. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
- Feinblatt, Scott (September 19, 2019). "Oliver Stone, Richard Stanley, '80s Horror and '70s Blaxploitation Highlight Beyond Fest 2019". Los Angeles Weekly. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
- "Mister America (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
- Weigel, David (October 14, 2019). "Mister America Is the Devastating Trump Satire America Deserves". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
- Debruge, Peter (October 5, 2019). "Film Review: Mister America". Variety. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
- Frederick, Candice (October 7, 2019). "'Mister America' Film Review: An Idiot Runs for Office, But That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore". TheWrap. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
- Kenigsberg, Ben (October 8, 2019). "Mister America Review: The Returns Are In: Diminishing". The New York Times. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
- Vishnevetsky, Ignatiy (October 8, 2019). "Tim Heidecker's On Cinema Hits the Big Screen in the Underwhelming Mister America". The A. V. Club. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
- Scheck, Frank (October 8, 2019). "Mister America: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
- Crump, Andy (October 10, 2019). "Mister America Is a Mockumentary That Feels Unsettlingly Real". The Week. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
- Morrow, Brendan (October 11, 2019). "A Fake Movie Review Show Just Spawned One of the Year's Best Comedies". The Week. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
- Tobias, Scott (October 10, 2019). "Boor Fest: All Politics Is Local, and Lowly, in Satire Mister America". NPR. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
- On Cinema at the Cinema, season 11, episode 4