7.2/10
311
6 user 1 critic

America Unchained (2007)

Dave Gorman attempts to travel coast to coast across America without giving any money to 'The Man' by avoiding large chains and multi-nationals and instead seeking out independent businesses in order to find the true spirit of the country.

Directors:

Andy Devonshire, Stef. Wagstaffe (as Stef Wagstaffe)

Writer:

Dave Gorman
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

Photos

Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Edit

Cast

Cast overview:
Dave Gorman ... Self
Stef. Wagstaffe Stef. Wagstaffe ... Self
Andy Devonshire Andy Devonshire ... Self
Edit

Storyline

Dave Gorman attempts to travel coast to coast across America without giving any money to 'The Man' by avoiding large chains and multi-nationals and instead seeking out independent businesses in order to find the true spirit of the country.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

One man's journey through non-corporate America.

Genres:

Documentary

User Reviews

Entertaining but the gimmick dominates at the expense of educating or informing the viewer on the subject
28 May 2008 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Comedian Dave Gorman was recently in America on a tour of his stand-up show and on this trip was struck by the homogeneity of the places he slept and ate. Feeling that he had not seen anything that was in the real spirit of America, he returns to California with a mission – to drive from the west coast to the east coast without giving any money to The Man™. Avoiding the chain motels and restaurants, Dave and his director set out on their journey in a car purchased second hand from "a man", not The Man™ but the biggest challenge is to make it from one independent gas station to another without running out of petrol.

Dave Gorman is nothing if not creative in his projects. Some of them work and some of them don't but it is hard to accuse him of not being original. This film grabbed my attention and some headlines with its idea because what it appeared to be was a Supersize Me type documentary looking at the way the independents in business are being squeezed out by the chains – the journey being the "nothing but McDonalds" gimmick that offers the wider look. Unfortunately the film doesn't totally succeed in making the most of the gimmick to actually look at the subject. Ironically the strength and weaknesses in the film both seem to be related to the journey, or more specifically, the car.

The car breaking down does, as Gorman notes, brings the film into contact with warm, helpful characters at independent garages and it is here that we see the pleasure of dealing with individuals who are flexible and, more importantly, "care" because they are the business rather than just working for the business. It is all a bit idealised but certainly the family diner closing is touching while the weirdly individual rooms in one motel are cool. In terms of balance it would have been nice to have had the downside of independents at least mentioned but instead it keeps this very Norman Rockwell view of it without any discussion.

The car also hurts the film because the vast majority of the running time is spent looking for petrol and in this regard the gimmick takes over from the subject. So instead of learning about the rise of chains and being given stats that convince the viewer why they are "bad" we are actually bombarded with lots of numbers and graphics as Gorman tries to work out how far he can get on the petrol he has in his tank. This put on top of the characters it meets does provide interest in the film but only in regards the gimmick, it doesn't help the substance as a documentary and I found it nearly impossible to shake off the disappointment that such a clever idea didn't manage to educate or inform the viewer.

The novel idea and the fulfilment of the gimmick still makes for an entertaining comic film but sadly it spends far too much time telling me how far the car can go on the petrol it has left and almost no time talking about why chains are bad or what the loss of independents means beyond the idealised viewed of them as being better.


8 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 6 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 February 2008 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Avalon Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page



Recently Viewed