This weekly television series follows the Camden family as the minister father and stay-at-home mother deal with the drama of having seven children, ranging from toddlers to adults with families of their own. The friends, neighbors, and love interests of the various members of the family weigh heavily on the plot of the series, which seeks to address a real-life issue with each episode.
If you're reading this review, you are probably aware that this film has the lowest opening box office of all time among wide releases. I believe the weekend total was around $120/screen, or about 15-20 tickets per screen. That's one or two tickets per showing.
That would jibe with my experience. I was hoping to see if the theater would show a movie to a single patron. I ended up sharing the theater with an elderly couple, with the husband clearly in the early stages of Alzheimer's. His occasional loud comments, such as "I don't get it", "Firetrucks", and "This is stupid" actually added quite a bit to the otherwise minimal entertainment value.
Is it, as the box office would seem to indicate, the worst movie ever made? No, but giving this thing a theatrical release has to rate as a pretty bone-headed decision. Then again, I suspect that what this proves is that the super-rich are not like you and me. If you are H. Ross Perot or the president of Coca-Cola, then you can not only pay to have an homage to the American Way made, you can also pull strings and force theater chains across the country to clear 750 screens for a film that plays more like an extended ABC After-School Special. Since this is such a business-oriented movie, I kept thinking about all the lost income for all the theaters showing this film to such minuscule crowds.
Well, I guess I should move on and actually review this flick. The film opens and closes with some very nice panoramic shots of various places all across the USA. I enjoyed those parts - not enough to pay for 90 minutes of that, but they were clearly the best part of the movie.
In between, the movie has a series of documentary-style vignettes. There are 3 long ones and maybe 2 or 3 shorter stories, along with about 8 or 10 30-second success stories. The 5 or 6 extended stories ("based on true stories") all feature actors, rather than the actual people. They were all designed to celebrate one facet or another of America - perseverance, opportunity, tolerance, etc.
Me? I thought they were all very ham-handed. There was distracting music overlaid on the stories, meant to underscore the particular lesson being taught, and everything wrapped up so nicely. The whole thing seemed much more appropriate for a school classroom than for a theater. I would bet the producers are already heated up the presses for "Teacher's Guides" for this movie. Given the extreme corporate backing, I bet this gets distributed for free to schools. For something like a middle-school classroom, it wouldn't be that bad.
P.S. I loved the product placement for Coca-Cola and American Airlines throughout the film. Also, Yakov Smirnoff makes an appearance in this film for no good reason.
Overall, seeing this film was good for a laugh, but I cannot recommend it.
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