Picture the scene. You’re 14 years old. You’re into hip-hop. You’re super-horny all the time, but you’re not sure about sex, really, or what the finer points of it involve. You love swearing. You’ve got a fairly short attention span. Also, your Grandad is a World War 2 veteran who tells you stories of the greatest generation all the time.
Then one day you decide to write a film, and bizarrely it makes it all the way to the screen with not a word of your incoherent, sex drenched, urban slang-using, World War 2 epic changed in any way. “FDR: American Badass” is that movie.
This is the third below-average alternate history US president mashup film I’ve reviewed for this site – , “Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” being the others. In fact, I think you could say that ISCFC is your home for films where US presidents of the past defend the country against supernatural creatures. Hey, webmaster! I have a new tagline for the site!
Anyway, Barry Bostwick, star of one of my favourite cheesy scifi movies “Megaforce” as well as a bunch of much better-known films and TV shows, plays Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It turns out he got polio due to a werewolf bite, but became President anyway. Wouldn’t you know it, when he has to fight the Axis powers, they’re led by werewolf Hitler and Mussolini (although you never see them as humans, so I’m not sure what they are).
That’s really all the plot you need for this film. There are few things worse than a comedy where all the jokes suck, and even fewer where everyone involved in the film thinks they’re making something hilarious. The mastermind behind this film is a guy called Ross Patterson, who’s also got a film called “Helen Keller vs. Nightwolves” in post-production, and has developed a comedy character called St. James St. James, who usually shows up in his other films (he’s also responsible for “Poolboy: Drowning Out The Fury”, which is sorta okay). In this film, he’s a Georgia gentleman who has a very open relationship with his wife, and he just sorta shows up every now and again throughout the film. Patterson seems like a good guy, and is certainly dedicated to making independent cinema, but wow is he not anywhere near as funny as he thinks he is.
There’s a scene where the radio announces Roosevelt has won the election that, I think, sums up the problem this film has. Rather than celebrate like normal people, they go insane – pouring drinks over their heads, leaping about, smashing furniture, and Roosevelt’s son empties a vase…I can barely believe I’m typing this…and takes a dump in it. We see “it” drop into the bottom of the glass vase too. This prompted a pause and the following exchange between me (M) and my lovely wife ( C ):
C: What. The. Hell.
M: Two ways of looking at this. Firstly, that it is a parody of celebration scenes, going deliberately over the top.
C: And the second way?
M: That they’re morons and thought this was funny.
C: Okay (pause) It’s the second one, isn’t it?
The style of this film is to throw everything at the screen and hope it works – crude humour, bizarre racial stereotypes, and an interest in sex so intense that I began to be a little worried for the person who wrote it. Almost every scene has someone wanting to have sex with someone, or talking about having sex with someone, or actually having some unusual sexual coupling of some sort. It goes a long way past the point where it’s funny, too, although it would have been nice if they’d at least started with some good material.
There has to be something positive about this film? Well, it’s always fun to see Barry Bostwick, even if him doing FDR’s famous “Fireside Chats” over the top of his black butler scratching an old record is a little on the odd side. For such a cheap film, it’s pretty stacked with solid acting, even if seeing them mugging so constantly, saying “sup, dawg” and having sex with that guy above’s wife is a bit offputting. And it tries! I feel bad criticising a group of people who obviously worked for peanuts, who love independent cinema as much as me, trying to make us laugh. But, y’know, show a guy taking a dump in a glass vase, in detail, twice, and I’m going to have to be done, I’m afraid.
Due to the enormous lead-in time of films, we’re probably not at the end of this run of mashup films. We’ve got “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” coming at some point, and there’ll no doubt be others. I doubt any of them will skate on the far edges of lunacy like this film does –also, they’ll have less people pooing in vases, smearing themselves with mustard and ketchup, and fewer former presidents firing a rocket launcher from their specially adapted wheelchair.