Friday, October 5, 2012

Movies with Uncle Tim: American Anthem - Part 1

Recently, I decided to return to the classics of cinema.

As I re-watched American Anthem, I absorbed all the lessons that the movie had to offer, and I will be recording them in my blog so that you would not have to suffer through 100 minutes of wanton looks, grunting, high cut leotards, sweating, and bad dialogue.

Luckily, viewers are spared from the cheesy dialogue during the first five minutes. Instead, 80s music blares in the background, and Mitch Gaylord and Janet Jones develop their characters silently. Seriously, it's like a giant charades competition, and well, truth be told, I was completely lost the entire time. Maybe I'm a little slow. Maybe I just suck at charades. Or maybe they are terrible at acting. Oh, wait, they are terrible at acting. Mitch Gaylord was nominated for a Razzie because of his performance in the movie.

Anyway, this is what I was able to piece together during the first five minutes.

First and foremost, Mitch Gaylord is a badass. The man, the myth, the legend doesn't need seat belts or car doors because his meaty arms will save him and his dog in the event of an accident. But he won't get in an accident because he's Mitch Fuckin' Gaylord. Duh.

Adding to his arsenal of badassery, he works in a motorcycle shop with Harley the Bear, who is the world's best boss. He is totally cool with you getting schnockered at work, but only if you are drinking Budweiser.
Heck, with a Budweiser in hand and a trucker hat on your head, you can do whatever the heck you want... Like, hit on a co-worker and maybe even get laid--all while you're on the clock. SCORE!

In Harley the Bear's shop, you know what else is encouraged? Being your own doctor. When Badass Mitch decides that it's time for his cast to come off, he goes over to Harley the Bear and asks him to remove his cast with a saw.

For whatever reason--probably stereotypes--I think that I would be more likely to trust Harley the Bear if he had a tattoo needle in his hand. A surgical saw? Not so much.

Across the continent, where people are not constantly drinking and sweating, there lives a girl, whose name we don't know yet, but she's played by Janet Jones. And since she does not have a name just yet, I shall call her Barbie because she is a spoiled, rich white girl who lives in a dream house in New York.

In true 80s fashion, the movie is a little after-school-specially. Though Barbie lives in the lap of luxury, her life is not perfect. We find out that having money and parental love are not directly correlated. In fact, Barbie's mom is so eager to get rid of her that she's packing Barbie's bags on her behalf.
This scene teaches us another valuable life lesson: Rich, white people are not racist. Look at all those effin' pillows! I mean, how can you be racist when you so many effin' pillows that are loosely fashioned after Navajo designs? Clearly, Barbie's family members are BIG supporters of the Native American population.

That's probably why her parents are shipping her off to Flagstaff to train. It's the land of the Hopi and the Navajo. It's also the land of the legendary Valentin Soranhoff. (Henceforward, he shall be called the Hoff.)
According to this article, in addition to being a gymnastics coach, this man dabbles in Model A pickups, Ethiopians, and firearms. Weird.

You probably can't tell based on that screenshot, but this article on the Hoff appears in Sports Illustrated. It turns out that, in the 80s, Sports Illustrated gave a shit about gymnastics during non-Olympic years. In fact, they were so interested in gymnastics that they devoted an entire issue to the sport.
Screenwriters, y'all are HILARIOUS! That's a great joke.

Look! Even Janet Jones cannot keep a straight face as she's reading it.

If that didn't make you laugh, get this: Not only did Sports Illustrated care about gymnastics, but Ling Xiang was one of America's top gymnasts. This can only mean one thing: After the 1984 Olympics, the Chinese saw America's superiority and decided to move to the U.S. to train. What is more, they became U.S. citizens and began competing for the U.S. National Team.

These screenwriters really do have a sense of humor, don't they?

Anyway, we find out that the Hoff is the head honcho at "Tops." (Did they consult the gays before naming this gym?)

When we get our first glimpse of the gym, there isn't a pommel horse in sight.
There are rings, parallel bars, and high bars, but not a pommel horse. I can't say that I am really surprised. This is America. This is the American anthem. When have Americans ever cared about pommel horse? 

That said, I'm impressed that this gym is full of men doing gymnastics. I mean, aren't you? After watching Make It or Break It for three years, I was not expecting the men to have equipment in the main gym. Shouldn't it be in the annex out back?

And after watching Make It or Break It for three years, haven't we come to expect that male gymnasts have a very specific role? Shouldn't they lurk in the background, creepily watch the girls train, and occasionally pretend to do iron crosses? Isn't that what they do? I clutched my pearls when I found out that male gymnasts can actually do gymnastics. Serious gymnastics. Like a double back off parallel bars.
I like Kirk. For now.

And after watching three seasons of Make It or Break It, I certainly was not expecting to see a character HURDLE onto a springboard. (It's the little things in life.) Seriously, the prima donna at TOPS knows how to vault!

I like Becky. For now.

I was expecting something more like this...

Could they set the vault any lower?

And, finally, after watching three seasons of Make It or Break It, I certainly wasn't expecting to see coaches OR a spotting belt.
In Make It or Break It, the girls were so good they didn't need spots. Unfortunately, Tracy isn't quite as good as Lauren Fuckin' Tanner, the Queen of the Beam. But that's okay. Tracy's still young. She's got time. Right?

Wrong. Tracy is the cutie-patootie-up-and-comer, and as a result, we are supposed to like her and think everything she does is cute. BUT. I. HATE. HER. And you should hate her, too. Just look at that shot of her learning a layout stepout on beam. That little poofhead teaches little girls that you don't need to worry about technique. Just chuck skills that are too difficult for you. Your coach will carry you through it. It'll be fine.

Great life lesson. (I'll give you three guesses which elite gym Tracy came from. Keep in mind there weren't many around in the 80s.) 

You know who else is full of great life lessons? Mitch Gaylord. He believes in breaking and entering...
...with a cigarette in his mouth.

And now, I can die a happy man. Make It or Break It finally makes sense. THIS is where the writers got all their ideas from.

Thankfully, the ABC Family writers did not steal the cheesy 80s music from this movie. John Parr's music blares in the background, ostensibly providing some kind of foreshadowing of what is to come. We are led to believe that there will be some kind of "age gap" and some kind of "mental lapse" as two hearts fall in love and beat as one.

But what does that mean? The age gap? Is someone going to fall in love with the Hoff? Who will it be? Barbie? Mitch?



I'm so confused! Those words clearly are describing the night when you had a brief lapse in judgment blacked out and slept with a 44 year-old cougar named Cindy who coated her intestines with vodka and green beer on St. Patrick's Day after she hit on you in line at the supermarket. (That has NEVER happened to any of my friends.) I hate to break it to you, but...



So, what does happen? Well, you will either have to buy the movie or wait until I have time to dissect a larger portion of the film. In the meantime, may your workdays be full of Budweiser, your gyms be full of men, and your nights be cougarless.

For part 2, click here.


  1. I LOVE AMERICAN ANTHEM. Such a gem. I still have the video tape, but I no longer have a VCR.