5 July 2016 | Hey_Sweden
"You've just caught America at a bad time."
It's the "future" year of 1998. There is a worldwide oil shortage, and the U.S. of A. has bankrupted itself. The nation is DEEPLY in debt to an Indian billionaire, Sam Birdwater (Chief Dan George), and now he'd like to have his money back. The youthful President, Chet Roosevelt (ever likable John Ritter) hires a media specialist, Eric McMerkin (Peter Riegert), who comes up with a genius idea. The idea is a 30 day telethon devised to get the people of the nation to cough up the dough. But there's a plot by one of the characters to undermine the whole thing, in part by coming up with the lamest acts imaginable.
"Americathon" was an okay movie for this viewer, nothing more. It takes an "Airplane!" / "Naked Gun" approach to its comedy, with lots of detail filling the frame. As co-written (based on the play by Firesign Theatre veterans Phillip Proctor and Peter Bergman) and directed by Neal Israel ("Bachelor Party"), it does have its moments. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes not so much. It has a LOT of energy, but it's a lot of energy spent on a script that isn't that great. Still, as other reviewers have pointed out, it does earn some points for being prophetic with some of its political / social / pop culture gags. It's like Paddy Chayefsky's / Sidney Lumet's "Network" in that way (or, for that matter, "Class of 1984"): while some of the material might have seemed far out at the time, it was predicted with some accuracy.
The actors easily give it 100%, in particular Harvey Korman as the drug addicted emcee of the event, and Zane Buzby as a highly theatrical Vietnamese "puke rocker". Fred Willard, Richard Schaal, and Nancy Morgan (Ritters' wife at the time) co-star, with cameo roles for the likes of Meat Loaf, Elvis Costello, Tommy Lasorda, Jay Leno, Peter Marshall, Allan Arbus, and David Opatoshu. The narration is hilariously spoken by George Carlin.
"Americathon" does offer some fun, and at the least is over fairly quickly.
Six out of 10.