FDR: American Badass! ★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I originally considered writing a satirical review, analyzing this film for historical accuracy (it's what my degree is in and what I intended to teach, before Crohn's derailed that, after all) but I've had a miserable time lately, which is why I'm only now even writing this diary entry four days after streaming the film with my friends who found it on Netflix and invited me to watch it with them.

And now, as I finally sit down to write this, the Republicans whose shutdown tactics led to some of the lowest Congressional approval ratings on record have just taken control of both legislative houses and I can't summon the wherewithal to be flippant.

All I really have to say about FDR: American Badass! is that the concept is interesting and the first act's humor is reasonably sharp but the writing just became lazy as the film progressed. There's a genuinely brilliant explanation of the lend-lease program, but then somehow the film managed to omit even referencing Pearl Harbor - which is made all the more baffling because FDR in this film has, we're told, been trying to win support for entering into World War II, so it would have addressed an in-story plot point as well as being the most obvious single historical event to acknowledge in a film built around Roosevelt.

I was also surprised by this depiction of Eleanor Roosevelt. Sexual activity (mostly debauchery) is a major theme of this film but Eleanor is a frigid, detached woman here. Maybe it was dismissed as low-hanging fruit to tap into former first lady's known sexuality? I don't know. It's a misalignment between the historical record and what clever, astute parody should do - which is to hit as many of the well-known facts/events/"bits" along the way.

By the time FDR personally kills Hitler and Mussolini and returns safely from the battlefield, I had more or less checked out and given up FDR: American Badass! (Making the Axis powers werewolves didn't faze me; I was actually entertained by that, as well as the running gag of them all shooting their underlings.)

The cast is terrific, embracing the film from start to finish and doing their best to sell it. The novelty of elderly actors saying and doing raunchy, vulgar things has worn off in the 21 years since Grumpy Old Men but there's something to be said for veteran actors who know their craft and how to apply their talents to elevate thinly written material. Plus, Barry Bostwick and Bruce McGill have great chemistry.

How FDR: American Badass! Entered My Flickchart

FDR: American Badass! < MGM: When the Lion Roars --> #1648
FDR: American Badass! > Exiled: A Law & Order Movie --> #1242
FDR: American Badass! < Crash (2004) --> #1242
FDR: American Badass! < Scorched --> #1242
FDR: American Badass! < There Was a Father --> #1242
FDR: American Badass! < Liar Liar --> #1242
FDR: American Badass! < The Lost Boys --> #1242
FDR: American Badass! > Hollow Man --> #1235
FDR: American Badass! < The Princess Diaries --> #1235
FDR: American Badass! < Japoteurs --> #1235
FDR: American Badass! < Jakob the Liar --> #1235

FDR: American Badass! entered my Flickchart at #1235/1655