Looking back on the 2016 documentary Weiner, Mister America (2019) surprisingly has a lot of resemblance to the aforementioned picture. Both films follow the day in the life of a politician (either fiction or very much real), and their journey towards an ultimate goal of a successful election. The thing with the two films, is that they’re both relatively poorly conceived from a documentary point of view. Following your subject for weeks on end, while also interviewing other important figures just won’t cut it. You need intrigue, you need a healthy dosage of investigative journalism, you need a satisfying resolution! Just documenting history, isn’t enough to hold solid ground. Strangely enough, for the mockumentary Mister America, where director Eric Notarnicola had all the opportunity to mess around with timelines and the sequence of events leading up to the film’s anticipated finale, everything is shockingly played safe.
As a person who personally admires Tim Heidecker as comedian who frequently takes risks with his humor, Mister America barely has anything to offer. There’s the occasional gag and soft reference, but the emphasis on creating a worthwhile piece of motivated commentary is essentially non-existent. It’s exactly what you would expect; the dangers of showmanship versus legal trialing in a court of judicial law, and governmental elections. It never goes deeper than that, and instead uses the majority of it’s slight 80 minute run-time on the occasionally clever banter and sardonic chatter. What makes matters even worse, is that the film had all the potential in delivering a message that could have actually created positive discourse. It’s well-intentioned in concept, yet the execution is unfortunately lacking. It’s honestly a shame, because there’s a voice here that needs to be heard.
The sequence of events leading up to the film’s dissatisfying resolution, just don’t even really matter in the long run. It’s a serialized short film/web series, extended into feature form. Scenes go on for far too long, to the point where Heidecker can’t even successfully utilize his witty improvisation skills fast enough, before the film turns into an insufferable, eye rolling mess. Emotionally, there’s also a distant disconnect between viewer and film. With films such Borat and Bruno, Sacha Baron Cohen tried his damn hardest in creating characters that can somewhat interest the audience; regardless of how shitty they might be. In Mister America, the self-referential political persona of Tim Heidecker is an obnoxious twat, and frankly nothing else.
Mister America is one big disappointing shrug. It had all the opportunity into becoming a politically motivated spoof, that could have easily created headlines and substantial merit; yet the bewildering safe approach is laughably tame. You’re honestly better off watching Adult Swim’s The Trial of Timothy Heidecker, which is a spiritual precursor to events taken place prior to Mister America.
Mister America opens in select cinemas on October 9th