If you noticed that Tim Heidecker has a new movie coming out and thought, “But I want Tim & Eric,” well: You can haz both. Not only is Heidecker starring in Mister America, opening Oct. 9, but he’s also doing a string of live shows with his longtime comedy partner Eric Wareheim. The Tim & Eric 2020 Mandatory Attendance Tour kicks off Jan. 15 in Australia and comes to Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre on Feb. 11.
If we’re to believe the teaser video released today, “you have no choice” but to see the live show, which promises “brand new spoofs, goofs and insanity, and some very special surprises.” Which leaves the question: Should you also see Mister America? Well, based on a preview screening, I can say it’ll get five bags of popcorn from anyone who gets the “five bags of popcorn” reference. Namely, fans of the Adult Swim series On Cinema, where Heidecker and Gregg Turkington (aka Neil Hamburger) play Siskel and Ebert if their passive-aggressiveness devolved into outright dysfunction and, eventually, arson and infanticide.
This mockumentary picks up where On Cinema dropped off, with Tim having beaten charges of killing 20 music festival attendees with his dubious “nutritional vape system.” (That whole subplot certainly proved prophetic.)
With the trial behind him (if you missed it, you can binge a staggering four and a half hours of it over at Adult Swim), Tim vows to unseat the man who prosecuted him and runs for San Bernardino District Attorney with a Trumpian level of narcissism and boarishness.
Sorry, there was no avoiding the T word here. While his Tim & Eric work revels in visual gags, infantile absurdism, and gross-out humor, Heidecker strikes a (slightly) more serious tone on social media and on his podcast, where he’s been a vocal critic of Trump. (He’s gone so far as to pen a song imagining his untimely demise.) In Mister America, he steps into the president’s electric-orange skin, playing the novice politician who attempts to bumble and bluster his way into office. All the while, he rains abuse down on his hapless, wine-swilling campaign manager, a former juror on Tim’s trial who somehow has enough of a soft spot for him that she’s willing to make his McDonald’s runs.
True to recent campaign docs like Running With Beto, there’s verité footage of Heidecker knocking on doors, stuffing himself with pie (more out of gluttony than glad-handing) and generally trying (and failing) to get his message across (sure, call your opponent a Rat, but maybe a restaurant window isn’t the best place for a sign that reads “We Have a Rat Problem”).
Needless to say, as the empty beer cans pile up at campaign headquarters and Tim’s ham-fisted bid to garner petition signatures gets as desperate as anything we’ve seen since De Blasio 2020, the film ends up being less Knock Down the House and more Weiner.
Like much of Heidecker’s output, Mister America won’t be everyone’s cup of Rio-Jenesis. After a recent press screening, one woman left the theater muttering an exasperated “Oh my God,” as if she had just been forced to sit through one of Trump’s stump speeches.
With political buffoonery dominating the news, it’s easy to see why someone wouldn’t want to spend a precious hour and a half humoring more of it. As countless comedians have pointed out, it’s hard to satirize what’s already absurd. When Tim, milking a Martin Luther King statue for a photo op, lauds MLK as a “founding father” and a “great icon of the San Bernardino Valley,” it feels all too familiar. (Have you heard the one about the abolitionist who’s “done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more”?)
Though flashbacks are deployed in an attempt to bring newbies up to speed with the On Cinema universe, Mister America is ultimately what you might call red meat for the base. Happily for existing members of the On Cinema family, Gregg Turkington gets plenty of screen time to dork out on movie trivia and throw his On Cinema at the Cinema co-host under the bus. Does he get to keep his hat on while doing so? You’ll have to watch this future popcorn classic to find out.
“Tim & Eric 2020 Mandatory Attendance Tour” comes to Kings Theatre on Feb. 11; see more tour dates and purchase tickets here.