Pitting historical figures against the dark and sinister creatures of the night is really nothing new. “Phantasm” director Don Coscarelli spearheaded the genre with his 2002 horror/comedy “Bubba Hotep”, a motion picture which finds Elvis (Bruce Campbell) and John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis) battling an ancient, soul-sucking mummy inside the gloomy confines of an old folks home. Now, it would seem, everyone and their opportunistic mother-in-law is looking to get in on the act. Even “Wanted” mastermind Timur Bekmambetov has his own like-minded endeavor in the form of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”, a film which comes complete with its own mockbuster from direct-to-video geniuses The Asylum. Shock of the year: I kind of dig these flicks, so until the bubble bursts, I’ll just relax and ride the wave.
If the idea of a watching tall, lanky Abraham Lincoln lookalike battle legions of colonial bloodsuckers doesn’t sound like very much fun, perhaps director Garrett Brawith and writer Ross Patterson’s “FDR: American Badass!” is more your speed. Powered by the same unstable minds responsible for “Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury”, the movie explores the famed President’s secret struggle with werewolf-related polio, as well as his dealings with the nefarious lyncanthropes responsible for instigating World War II. It’s revisionist history with an eye for the remarkably absurd, as told by a group of individuals with a penchant for dick and fart jokes. As may already have guessed, I loved every demented second of it. Who needs high-brow entertainment when you have girls licking condiments off polio-stricken appendages?
Barry Bostwick stars as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a man who succumbs to the ravages of polio after being bitten by a werewolf. Although he’ll never have use of his legs again — his penis is okay, by the way — FDR continues to campaign for the presidency, much to the dismay of the evil forces gathering on the other side of the pond. As fate would have it, the Axis of Evil is comprised of savage, bloodthirsty werewolves, and their leaders are none too pleased about FDR taking office. In order to conquer the planet and transform everyone into werewolves, the villains begin spiking imported booze with their lycanthropic disease. This, of course, leaves our presidential hero with no other choice than to declare war on these hairy bastards. With the assistance of his friends, family, and a wheelchair armed with missiles and silver bullets, Delano sets out to wipe this threat from the face of the planet.
“FDR: American Badass!” is loaded from top-to-bottom with an epic amount of uncut, high-grade absurdity. History buffs who, perhaps, take their hobby a little too seriously will most likely blow a fuse attempting to wrap their minds around Patterson and Brawith’s revisionist take on a number of historical scenarios. Listening to Delano spout an endless stream of expletive-laden ghetto slang while addressing his constituents never gets old, thanks in part to a wonderfully inspired performance by “St. Elsewhere” alumni Barry Bostwick. The guy is easily the highlight of this outrageously moronic low-budget endeavor, though Brawith and company have done well to surround their star with all sorts of top notch talent. Bruce McGill, Lin Shaye, Paul Ben-Victor, and Kevin Sorbo — as a pot-smoking Abraham Lincoln, no less — all do their part to increase the picture’s level of top-notch insanity.
As far as the humor is concerned, the entire film is littered with unapologetically rude, crude, and, at times, mind-numbingly bizarre (poop in a jar, anyone?) nonsense. There’s nary a moment when something oddly humorous isn’t unfolding on-screen, usually at the expense of one historical figure or another. As such, not every joke is a sure fire hit; there are a few brief instances where your eyes will roll involuntarily in their sockets, though these moments are soon brushed aside and promptly forgotten thanks to film’s eccentric collection of excellent performance. As long as you realize the picture is more “Black Dynamite” than Masterpiece Theater, I doubt you’ll ever notice the picture’s minor fumbles and stumbles.
Right now, Garrett Brawith and Ross Patterson make comedies that I love to praise. Although “Poolboy” was an enjoyable romp through the land of ludicrous, over-the top-comedy, “FDR: American Badass!” is a much stronger effort, as it takes that formula and gives it a bit of polish and a lot of shine. The end result is nothing short of hilarious. Bostwick, Patterson, and the endlessly enjoyable Lin Shaye give it their all, and it shows in nearly second of footage on-display. The flick is a sociopathic delight, a morally defunct and frequently offensive experience that is sure to satisfy folks who frequently wallow in the shallow waters of bad taste. As far as comedies go, I seriously doubt 2012 has anything better to offer than Barry Bostwick as Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And while I’m almost positive the filmmakers are having a good laugh at our experience, I honestly couldn’t care less.
Garrett Brawith (director) / Ross Patterson (screenplay)
CAST: Barry Bostwick … Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Lin Shaye … Eleanor Roosevelt
Bruce McGill … Louis
Ray Wise … Douglas MacArthur
Kevin Sorbo … Abraham Lincoln
William Mapother … Dr. Ellington
Paul Ben-Victor … Mussolini
Keri Lynn Pratt … Marietta Buford
Ross Patterson … Cleavon Buford
Paul Willson … Winston Churchill