My fellow Americans,
This fine film is not about Ronald Reagan, the greatest man who ever lived. Sadly, the LORD took him from us at too young an age. No, this film is about a simple rural man named Gus who admires that great American and embodies everything he stood for: Trickle down economics, the war on drugs, community care psychiatry, scaring the s**t out of the commies, and of course… murdering hippies with an axe.
In 1967, when his lumberjack father was kept from doing his noble profession of clearing the forest so that the simple people of this nation could have decent affordable housing by a mob of protesting bleeding heart liberal hippies, Gus went mad and killed one of these dastardly ruffians with a chainsaw. Despite having committed a completely blameless act of self defense he was sent to an asylum where evil Godless Nazi psychiatrists with their science and electroshock therapy ravaged the poor boys mind. But God smiled on the brave boy’s selfless act; because a few years later then Governor Reagan made the wise decision to let these innocents out of their bondage by the liberal elite, and Gus was released.
Because of that, Gus never forgot the kindness of his savior and our once great leader. Thus when five dirty, smelly blackfooted hippies came to his beautiful haven for a so-called “outdoor” festival of drink, drugs and horribly loud devil music, he knew by the grace of God what he had to do. And what a beautiful gift to the world it was; Ronald Reagan, with an axe, killing hippies. Excuse me while I wipe a tear from my eye.
Unfortunately, at times the film does not live up to our great leader’s memory. The first thirty minutes are quite good and the ending works very well, but there’s an entire middle section which is badly paced and packed with filler. The most obvious problem is that while the film has some genuinely cutting observations about both liberals and conservatives to make, the aforementioned middle contains too many scenes of people either doing drugs or dancing; and too few (in fact, almost none) of the biting satire that fueled the first act. Not until the ending do we get a whiff of what made it great earlier.
Also, David Arquette’s direction is all over the place, which is frustrating because it’s not untalented, just unformed and unrefined. The script isn’t bad at all, and takes its goofy premise a lot more seriously than you’d think it would. Unfortunately, the characters are really not well defined at all. Thomas Jane and Jaime King come closest to building a sort of depth in their performances, but Lukas Haas, Paz De La Huerta, Marsha Thomason and Stephen Heath are just placeholders since they don’t have any dialogue beyond “Hey man…” Paul Rubens is likewise given absolutely no personality for his character beyond “a*****e” but makes it work anyway because, like him or not, he does have good comedic timing. Jason Mewes, for his part, is just riffing off his Jay persona; but he’s having a little fun and that’s cool. If he had something interesting to say it might have been cooler.
I must also mention how heartwarming it is that, for a film made in that modern Babylon called Hollywood, the depictions of the hippies aren’t exactly favorable. All of them, save one, are shallow mindless idiots more interested in the evils of sex drugs and rock and roll than in their supposed “causes”. The exception is Samantha (Jaime King), a girl traumatized by an abusive boyfriend and a bad acid trip who is now against heavy drug use. Also, for a film rampant with drug use, surprisingly none of it is shown to be any fun. Instead the drug takers are shown as compulsive and escapist boobs.
Yes, the film spits most of it’s venom at the Conservatives, but I love a good roast; even when it’s at the expense of my treasured values of God, Guns and Guts. But the problem with the movie is that entire middle part that seems to lose all aspirations to be a satire about politics. The beginning certainly knows who it’s making fun of, showing our young Gus sitting in front of the television being raised on a steady diet of conservative politics and Vietnam War atrocities. The ending likewise does not paint the Saint George W. Bush in a good light. However, the middle part seems to shy away from having any opinion about anything.
But enough talk of politics, how does it work as a slasher film? Well, even the near stillborn pacing I’ve been babbling about is no worse than a lot of “classics” from the genre. So if you can take those, you can take this. The gore is excellent and there’s a surprising amount of nudity. I think that in a few decades this will become a cult classic. For now though, it’s a bit moribund and in the end, we’re left frustrated about how nasty this movie could have been and wasn’t. It’s too nice and too ignorant of how conservatives really think and talk. Had it gone the extra mile it could have been the most scathing, twisted and f****d up attack on the right ever put on film.
Still, it stands as a great tribute to the values of a great man. Every time that axe fell and took one of those commie pinko bastards off the face of the Earth I knew that the ghost of Reagan was smiling down from Heaven; because after all, he’s got to be in Heaven right?
What am I saying? Of course he is.
God bless America.
Jerome Judas Knox III
Montreal Chapter President of the Donald Rumsfeld Appreciation Society