Obamaland

Is this becoming a new genre or are we just really angry with politics today? Last Halloween, I reviewed President Evil, which is basically an angry progressive’s cathartic vomit-spew about a Republican serial killer hellbent on carving up anyone not white and male. Today, I get its conservative contender, Obamaland, a possible cautionary tale about an America where Barak Obama is elected President-For-Life. Obamaland is a slightly right-leaning satire about the current state of politics. I think, maybe. Honestly, who knows where this film stands.

From writer/director Greg Bergman, we find ourselves in America 2040. Barack Obama is President-For-Life following the 2016 post-election death of Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Paul Ryan. In his ultimate act of socialism, Obama is about to unleash his redistribution laser upon America to once and for all redistribute everything equally among all people.

Meanwhile, at the Obamaland west coast capital of Silverlake, our unsuspecting hero Tinder Tucker’s (Isaac Anderson) world is shattered when his girlfriend outs herself as gender-queer, pan-sexual, and form-positive. Heartbroken, Tinder runs off with his best friend Xander (Greg Bergman) and Ebony (John McLaughlin), a transgender/transracial black woman, to cover the Initiators, an MS-14 social justice rock band, for OPR (Obama Public Radio). I know, it’s all wrong.

“…Obama is about to unleash his redistribution laser upon America to once and for all redistribute everything equally among all people.”

This progressive road trip takes a turn for the worse when Xander and Ebony are killed during a shootout at the concert in the Borderlands, where the border between the U.S. and Mexico no longer exists. Tinder’s life is saved by the loner American Ed McCain (P. David Miller), but the two are taken into custody and sentenced to hard labor in the Cristal Fields of the Midwest Territory until they die.

Liberation for Tinder and Ed comes in the form of the Great Hope White (Christina Leidel), who rescues the pair. Now Tinder and Ed find themselves in the middle of the feuding Trumpublikan tribes of the Middlewest. Each tribe runs a chain of casual family dining establishments called Applecheez, Olive Barrel, Chilibees, and the Cracker Garden. To unite the Trumpublikan tribes and defeat Obama, Tinder must convince the Great Hope White to lead the way. She agrees with one special request that Tinder takes her virginity. Honestly, I can’t believe I’m typing this.

Political films at this time, quite frankly all have divisive elements to them. In other words, they’re not helping the situation at all. President Evil approached its politics with a great deal of anger toward its opponents. Obamaland, on the other hand, approaches politics with great silliness. To say that Obamaland is 100% right-wing propaganda would not be correct. At times, I wondered where its politics lie, which may be the film’s overall point, but I doubt it. It appears to poke at both sides, although 80%/20% at the left’s expense. If you’re on the left, you’re going to hate Obamaland. It can get pretty offensive for the faint-hearted.

But is it funny? Let’s take politics out of the discussion and see what’s left. What’s left is a silly mess. For a comedy that’s fine, but the silliness is never really clever. Obamaland takes us twenty years into the future and gives us nothing that realistically resembles America. So, nothing in this film can be taken seriously like a laser that redistributes wealth.

“…you’re going to be first angry…then your anger will transform to offense…”

Comedy works best when there’s a kernel of truth to latch onto in the joke. We need to be emotionally connected with a joke’s setup to make the punchline hilarious. Without a connection to the setup, the punchline has no…punch. There’s a moment when the Great Hope White rides in on horseback with American-flag facepaint and delivers the Braveheart speech. The setup is humorous, “hey, it’s the Braveheart speech.” But there’s no connection to our reality, so it just comes off as a silly Braveheart speech gag to be thrown away once it’s done.

If Obamaland has anything going for it, its the acting. The comic timing all around is good. The actors are playing their parts reasonably seriously, so they’re not constantly winking at the camera once a joke is told. As much as I came down on the quality of the comedy, I genuinely laughed at a few jokes and liked its silliness at times. Ultimately, it’s 90% a groaner. Lastly, Chris James does a fantastic Obama impression.

To the liberal, you’re going to be first angry with Obamaland as it opens with Trump’s infamous Mexico speech and his mockery of a journalist. Then your anger will transform to offense…especially if you can’t take a joke. To the conservative, you’re going to wonder at times if Obamaland is making fun of you, too (and it is). It’s hardly making a case for conservatism either. Maybe deep down, that’s writer/director Bergman’s endgame to just offend everyone, which sadly doesn’t work. This gag-filled feature is missing much-needed cleverness (and maybe a clear political viewpoint) to be worth a recommendation. Although you may be tempted to check it out…you know…curiosity and the cat.

Obamaland (2018) Written and directed by Greg Bergman. Starring Issac Anderson, Christina Leidel, Chris James, P. David Miller, Todd Long.

5 out of 10 stars

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