Achmed is having a very bad day. As if accidentally blowing himself up until he's a talking skeleton isn't bad enough, the world's most incompetent terrorist finds himself whisked away from... See full summary »
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Explores and examines the world of ventriloquism through clips, photos and interviews with many of the greatest vents from today and yesterday, illustrating that this perceived novelty act is truly an extraordinary art form.
Bryan W. Simon
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Achmed is having a very bad day. As if accidentally blowing himself up until he's a talking skeleton isn't bad enough, the world's most incompetent terrorist finds himself whisked away from his homeland by a bald eagle and taken to - Americaville, USA. Written by
I remember when ventriloquist-comedian Jeff Dunham began gaining momentum and slowly etching himself into a household name, right around the time I was in middle school (2006 - 2009). I remember viewing his early comedy specials on Comedy Central and laughing hysterically, even at one point thinking I could be a ventriloquist much like him. Dunham was one of the comedians who brought the art of the ventriloquist into the mainstream, using eccentric but highly memorable dummy characters in his skits to create a lively and infinite atmosphere.
Despite all efforts, the obvious fact is that converting one of Dunham's signature characters into animation inevitably cheapens and simplifies the process and art of creating a dummy character into just being another goofy character fortunate enough to get his own special. With Achmed Saves America, Dunham's famous puppet - a skeletal suicide bomber with a thick, Arabian accent - is welcomed to the animated medium, along with other famous characters such as Cheech and Chong and Jay and Silent Bob, who have been welcomed to the realm of cartoons within the last year or so. The result is a sporadically funny, sometimes interestingly satirical but a thoroughly flat and unnecessary endeavor that earns its laughs predominately because of the familiarity one will likely have with the film's source material.
The film revolves around its titular character (voiced by Jeff Dunham), showing his humble beginnings as an incompetent suicide bomber, who is blown up into a skeleton before being carried by a bird and dropped off in the United States. After landing in the middle of a road, Achmed is struck by a minivan carrying the Wilson family, your archetypal, well-off and good-natured white family.
The Wilson clan mistake the dead terrorist for their daughter's French foreign exchange student named Claude and, as a result, take him in to their family and treat him as one of their own. It just so happens that the whole town, cleverly named "Americaville," embraces Claude's arrival and the townspeople, who come from all over the political spectrum, treat him like he's the chosen one.
Achmed is passionately against American culture and customs, until he sees how friendly, welcoming, admittedly simple, and inherently loving they are, as well as the abundance of benefits such as all you can eat buffets and fast food. Now, Achmed decides to ditch his terrorist views and embrace the land of the red, white, and blue.
One thing that's sort of upsetting is that Achmed Saves America seems incredibly safe, given its source material. When it crosses the line of satire, it does so ever so safely, never assuring much commentary about liberals, conservatives, gun lovers, or American society as a whole seeps through. It also doesn't help that the special (it's hard to call this a film, really when, like such projects as Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie and Freaknik The Musical, it's hardly feature-length and feels more like an experiment) never reaches particularly raunchy heights. I speak not as someone requesting everything I watch be vulgar and dirty-minded, but to air this special on a network like Comedy Central and have the filthiest phrase being "ass-hat" seems kind of ludicrous.
There's fun to be had with this, however; the animation's simplicity works as a pleasant throwback, Achmed does score some very good laughs, Dunham's voicework translates well to animation (did he actually speak or did he use his ventriloquist techniques?), and the whole thing is hardly a task to watch at sixty minutes in length. It's just a shame that safer routes were taken over more risqué ones that would've likely ensure a long lifespan and impact.
Voiced by: Jeff Dunham. Directed by: Frank Marino.
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