Americathon

Americathon

Director: Neal Israel

Cast: Neal Israel, Peter Riegert, Harvey Korman, Fred Willard

     
 

In the future (the distant year of 1997), the United States of America is in crisis. The oil shortage has grown to epic proportions, leading to people living in their cars and bicycling to work. Cigarettes and meat have been outlawed, gold coins are needed to operate common household appliances, and the Western White House (located in a luxury apartment in California)… See more details below

Overview

In the future (the distant year of 1997), the United States of America is in crisis. The oil shortage has grown to epic proportions, leading to people living in their cars and bicycling to work. Cigarettes and meat have been outlawed, gold coins are needed to operate common household appliances, and the Western White House (located in a luxury apartment in California) has been forced by economic necessity to operate round-the-clock tours for vacationing Chinese citizens. The economy is deep trouble; President Chet Roosevelt (John Ritter) has borrowed four billion dollars from Native American tennis shoe manufacturer Sam Birdwater (Chief Dan George), and he's foreclosing on the loan. When a media expert, Eric McMerkhin (Peter Riegert), is summoned for advice (since despite all hardships, Americans refuse to give up their televisions), he suggests a telethon. It's a great idea, except the President's assistant Vincent Vanderhoff (Fred Willard) is in cahoots with the United Heb-Rab Republic, a sinister coalition of Israeli and Arab nationals who want to snap up America if the debt can't be paid. He ensures that the show is stocked with endless ventriloquists and insists on Monty Rushmore (Harvey Korman), a washed-up, drug-addicted television personality as host. The star of the popular sitcom "Both Mother and Father," he is sure to self-destruct over the grueling 30-day-and-night telethon schedule. Despite terrorist attacks and the kidnapping of President Roosevelt, the patriotic spirit prevails and American citizens dig deep and pledge their gold to the cause. This outrageous farce (based on a play by Firesign Theatre alumni Philip Proctor and Peter Bergman) features cameos from Elvis Costello, Jay Leno, Meat Loaf and the Del Rubio Triplets, and is narrated by George Carlin. The Beach Boys, Eddie Money, and Nick Lowe contribute to the musical soundtrack.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Fred Beldin
While the satire doesn't always connect with this box-office misfire, Americathon still scores some juicy bull's eyes, forecasting a number of cultural fads that don't seem so ridiculous in retrospect (is a future where hipsters wear clown shoes and fashion rollerskates so hard to envision?). Unfortunately, the film has many stilted passages that seem to suffer from clumsy editing, especially a conclusion featuring President Roosevelt's rescue that is presented in silent montage, suggesting post-production tampering. Though generally avoided by audiences when released, Americathon is smarter and funnier than detractors might suggest, with a loud, brash sensibility that buzzes with energy. The film bulldozes its way past its technical shortcomings with an affectionate but devastating attack on American culture, as well as a great soundtrack and crazed performances from an assortment of '70s era personalities. Harvey Korman and Meat Loaf are hilarious, though Peter Riegert never seems to get the joke. For these reasons it entertains as a time capsule, as a hazing of everything excessive and pernicious about the U.S. during the Carter administration: gas shortages, economic recession, and tensions in the Middle East. The logical extremes that Americathon takes these issues to are wickedly funny, even if the rest of the film falls apart around it.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/30/2010
UPC:
0883316248874
Original Release:
1979
Rating:
PG
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
1:24:00
Sales rank:
43,508

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Peter Riegert Eric
Harvey Korman Monty
Fred Willard Vanderhoff
Zane Buzby Mouling
Nancy Morgan Lucy
Richard Schaal Jerry
Chief Dan George Sam
Meat Loaf Oklahoma Roy
Terry McGovern Danny Olsen
Geno Andrews Chris
Allan Arbus Hebrabs
Robert Beer David Eisenhower
George Carlin Actor
Elvis Costello Earl
Howard Hesseman Kip
Tommy Lasorda Announcer
Jay Leno Larry
Peter Marshall Himself
David Opatoshu Actor
John Ritter Chet
Jimmy Weldon VP Research

Technical Credits
Neal Israel Director,Screenwriter
Jack Baran Asst. Director
Peter Bergman Original Story
Earl Brown Score Composer
Elvis Costello Score Composer
Mark Fabus Set Decoration/Design
Gerald Hirschfeld Cinematographer
Andrew Horvitch Editor
John C. Howard Editor
Monica Johnson Screenwriter
Stan Jolley Production Designer
Reggie Knighton Score Composer
Michael Mislove Screenwriter
Daniel Paredes Costumes/Costume Designer
Alan Parsons Score Composer
David Pomeranz Score Composer
Philip Proctor Original Story
Jaime Rogers Choreography
James B. Rogers Choreography
Edward J. Rosen Executive Producer
Joe Roth Producer
Tom Scott Score Composer
Jim Steinman Score Composer,Songwriter

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