Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie (2016)

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I don’t hate Donald Trump, particularly, although his stated views are repellent and I think he’d be the worst President the USA ever had (although, we’d be one step closer to “Idiocracy”, and getting “Ow, My Groin” on TV). He’s been allowed to succeed through his father’s wealth and a system that rewards him – he’s more like a dog who steals a steak. He’s just being a dog, it’s our job to make sure the steak isn’t in a spot where he could take it. Or train him better. I don’t know, this is a stupid analogy now I think of it. I hate the system.

 

If you’ve been on the internet recently, you may have seen something about this. It being linked to by some news site, or your comedy nerd friend telling you about it. Funny Or Die decided to make a 50 minute long parody / TV version of Donald Trump’s 1980s book “The Art Of The Deal”, part of the genre – awful businessman reveals how awful he is and how easy it is to make money if you’ve got the system stacked in your favour – that mercifully hasn’t fully invaded our shores yet. Anyway, even though they’ve been pretty much solely devoted to short sketches to this point, FOD just took the same number of ideas and jokes you’d get in a three minute sketch, and made something which lasts 50 minutes.

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Johnny Depp does a hell of a job as Trump, unrecognisable under make up, and there’s a ton of internet-comedy-famous names too – Jack McBrayer Kristen Schaal, Jason Mantzoukas, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel, Michaela Watkins, Alfred Molina and Stephen Merchant (well, Molina is a serious-ish actor who’s suddenly decided to make weird comedy shows). The “film” follows a chapter outline, as Trump explains to the kid who stole his book and snuck into his office about his rules of business. I realise I’m recapping the outline of a comedy sketch. I’m sorry.

 

The framing device is Ron Howard, who tells the story of how Trump wrote, produced, directed and starred in his own TV movie but it was bumped for an NFL game and never shown – he found a copy at a yard sale and wrestled an old lady for it. But you just said it was never shown?

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It’s more to be admired for sheer bloody-mindedness than it is laughed at, I think. Perhaps the joke is that it’s a 50 minute sketch, and we’re all fools for watching it? The problem is both that it’s not funny, and that it doesn’t even stick terribly well to its own premise. It’s supposed to be a movie completely controlled by Trump, but it shows him at times in a very negative light. Why would he tell the world he couldn’t poop, for example? Then, the idea is even further hammered into the ground with the post-credits bit where Howard says “that was terrible, wasn’t it?” and takes the tape out and throws it in the bin. If you hate it, why are you showing it?

 

Several other reviewers have praised it for a similarity to “Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace”, which is perhaps the only real laugh of all. Darkplace is ten times the show this was, every episode was five times as many jokes in half the time, with real care and craft put into it (and hilarious performances from everyone involved). This was just expecting you to laugh at people you’ve seen in other, funnier things, merely because they’re wearing stupid wigs.

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Perhaps this would be funnier if I was American, and was living with the idea of a Donald Trump presidency. I wonder if Americans would think the Comic Strip movie “Strike!” was all that funny, an ocean divorced from the background? But as an outsider with an American wife who’s horrified at what’s going on, I…still didn’t like it. An idea to be commended for its strangeness, but not particularly enjoyed. Directed by Drunk History’s Jeremy Konner and written by a guy who used to edit “The Onion” (a comedy paper / site that told you a joke in a headline, then beat the joke into the ground for five paragraphs), I wish all that assembled talent could have done something a bit better.

 

Rating: thumbs down

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