Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: "President Wolfman"

There will always be a part of me that will love "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist". Don't look at my review like that... When I was in grade school, I would take the newspaper cartoons, cut out different characters and lines of dialogue and rearrange them to create a new strip that I called The Funnies. A boy can do wonders with a pair of scissors and a stick of glue.

And people can do similar feats with a foreign film and some editing software. "Kung Pow" was basically the movie version of The Funnies; you take old footage, shoot some new footage, do some voice overs and you've created a whole new flick! The final product hasn't exactly aged well, but I still appreciate its remix / re imagining attitude (and so did my cousins when I showed it to them).

It's that very attitude that makes me love this digital renaissance so much.

"President Wolfman" is not on the juvenile level of humor that "Kung Pow" lived on, but it does share a similar spirit. You see, the filmmakers took footage from public domain films - the majority of which coming from "Werewolf of Washington" - hired some voice actors, wrote a new script and put together what I can only best describe as a joyous romp. This new story follows President of the United States John Wolfman, as he deals with a popular piece of legislation that would sell America to China (marketed to the country as Chi-merica) in an effort to erase our debt. Oh, and he's also a werewolf.

Political satire can be hard to do without hitting the audience over the head with some kind of message, but "President Wolfman" is only interested in making you laugh at how ridiculous it all is. I once did a speech for public speaking class where I announced my candidacy for President. I laid out a goal, where not only would I stop the War in Iraq, but I would make it up to the country by offering a product placement with Pepsi; change the name of their capital to that of a soda, and you've got reparations. Of course, I was just being cheeky, but it also made a good point about where we were at as a country at the time - our ignorance towards a region of the world we didn't understand.

We see Chinese officials as classic racial stereotypes, tv commercials used as propaganda against its own people (us) and a congress that just likes to party. Sure, it's somewhat cartoonish in its presentation, but it really does nail certain things on the head; our national mindset towards other countries and races is still pretty tasteless, our government and media have no problem manipulating the voters into agreeing with anything they want and the only way a President can accomplish something is by morphing into a beast. This is my kind of political / social commentary. Through silliness, there is truth.

PW LocalScreen promo from Mike Davis on Vimeo.

The movie is also very aware at what it's doing. At one point, a sequence involving an emergency pregnancy is shown. This piece of footage has been circulated all over the internet, and really doesn't forward the story in any way. It's clearly meant to take the audience out of the film for a moment, and realize how much fun the filmmakers are having. One of the most obvious wink winks I've ever seen, in one of the most enjoyable projects I've seen in years.

I almost want to dust off my copy of "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist". Almost. Maybe I'll give "What's Up, Tiger Lily?" a view. Or maybe I should grab a newspaper (while I still can) and cut and paste away. Ought to be fun, no matter what I choose...

3/5 *'s

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