davidehrlich’s review published on Letterboxd:
It’s hard to define exactly what actor/comedian/musician Tim Heidecker does — the deliberate result of a Dead Sea-dry sense of humor that can make even his most committed supporters feel like they’re not always in on the joke — but if anything binds his various projects together it might be a consistent effort to explore the value of absurdity in an increasingly absurd world. You can see it in “The Comedy,” a semi-improvised satire in which Heidecker gave one of the decade’s great performances as a trust fund man-child who gets unmoored between irony and entropy. You can hear it on albums like “Too Dumb for Suicide: Tim Heidecker’s Trump Songs,” in which he mocks our reality TV president in order to grapple with the futility of mocking our reality TV president.
And you can watch it darken and metastasize for hours and hours and hours on end as part of the ever-expanding “On Cinema” universe, which started as one giant subtweet of a movie review podcast before it grew to encompass 11 seasons of a television show, a five-hour fake murder trial, and now a feature-length film in which Heidecker campaigns to become the San Bernardino County District Attorney in order to get revenge on the man who (rightly) tried him for his role in an EDM concert where 18 people vaped themselves to death.
That may not make a ton of sense to anyone who didn’t watch Tim’s Electric Sun Desert Musical Festival go disastrously wrong in season nine of “On Cinema at the Cinema,” but “Mister America” — the new mockumentary about Heidecker’s malicious political campaign — doesn’t really seem to care. The movie is (extremely) fine with being a fans-only affair, but the fact is that Heidecker’s comedy thrives in the liminal space between what’s supposed to be funny and what’s not, and the one thing he can’t afford to do is stop to explain the joke. Besides, we all live at a time when a thin-skinned bully redoubled his efforts to take over the world after a comedian made fun of him at a fancy dinner party, so it’s not like anyone is going to be all that starved for context. “Mister America” might be a much tougher sit for the uninitiated than it is for all the TimHeads out there, but even those who don’t enjoy this half-baked stunt of a movie should be able to appreciate how sardonically it smudges the thin line between freedom and chaos.