Sunday, November 4, 2012

American Anthem - Part 5

Last time we checked in with the talented gymnasts-turned-actors, Mitchy and Barbie had a big fight, which resulted in some serious leaning on Mitchy's part. But you know what? I believe that things can change. After all, it's a new day in Arizona.
Oh, geez, that's deeper than a Bob Ross painting.

Unfortunately, before Mitchy can start anew, he has to take care of a few things at home. Like showing his dad who's boss. After getting all muddy and then striking out with Barbie, he comes home the next morning only to see MILF the Mom driving away and to find his little brother Mikey crying outside. Not sure what's up, Mitchy runs inside and finds broken vases on the floor. His dad is stewing in the kitchen, and Mitchy is FED. UP. He pushes his dad against the wall and tells him to get the hell out of there. He then turns around and tells his little brother to "GET THE FUCK OUT."

I'm not sure if we are supposed to applaud Mitch for his valor or if we are supposed to notice that the cycle of violence and abuse has been passed onto the next generation. In either case, we are supposed to feel something during this scene, and I did--just not what I was supposed to feel. Being the irreverent asshole that I am, I laughed during the entire scene because Mitch Gaylord shows anger by making chipmunk faces OVER...

...and OVER

...and OVER
I don't know if we should call him Mitchmunk or Chip-n-Mitch or what.

Anyway, Mikey, Mitch's little brother, really does get the fuck out of the house. (They're so literal at that age.) And he decides to go joyriding on his three-wheeler ATV. Yes, that's right. The lad's like 8 and has an ATV. (Oh, and did I mention that his family's poor? Yet, somehow, they can afford an ATV, several large, gas-guzzling vehicles, and, as we'll see in a bit, a dirt bike.) In all honesty, the little guy should probably stick to the tricycles because after spending all of 2 seconds on the machine, he crashes. But since stubbornness runs in the family, Mikey gets up and presses on.

Mitch, thinking he's Jackie Joyner Kersee, decides to run to catch up to his brother. But he quickly realizes that he ain't no track star. So, he sprints back to the house. Of course, he can't just sprint back to the house. Oh, no, he's got to whip off his jacket, unveiling his back muscles--WOOF!--and his tank top, which, last time I checked, was covered in mud from doing high bar in the rain.

Now, it's white as snow. When did he have time to clean up and change?

At the house, a dirt bike just happens to be awaiting him...
...along with a motorcycle jacket. (If there's one thing Mitch Gaylord can do, it's a quick costume change.) Since he's Mitch Fuckin' Gaylord, he, of course, catches up to his little brother, but he can't stop little Mikey. However, once Mikey realizes that he's running out of terrain, he bails. This sends his bike careening off a cliff, and after a few log rolls into a backwards roll, Mikey goes flying off the cliff too.

Mitchmunk reappears...
His face is clean here.

...and he runs to see if his brother is still alive.

His face is clean here.
Mikey is. (This film, after all, was made in the 80s, when movie directors were supposed to inculcate morals--not kill off characters with adorable mullety hair.) Mini Mullet Mitch is hanging onto a stick that happens to be jutting out the side of the cliff, and Mitch, of course, has to pull Mikey up from the cliff. 'Cause that's what badass protagonists do.

You know what else badass protagonists do? They listen to their little brothers. While straddling his little brother (Yes, you read that correctly), Mitch pulls off the little guy's helmet, and Mini Mullet Mitch says, "You shouldn't have told Dad to leave." And in that moment, the heavens open; the angels begin to sing; and Mitch sees the light. All of his animosity towards his father just disappears. He, like Mikey, realizes that he just wants things to be like they once were.

Folks, I hope you're taking notes because American Anthem just taught us some important family values. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars on expensive family therapy. You don't need to sit on a couch and talk to some quack. Just do a backwards roll off a cliff, and all your family turmoil will disappear!

By the way, if I have to watch another scene in which Mitch Gaylord attempts to cry, I might do a backwards roll off a cliff.
His face is super dirty here. How the eff did that happen?
Directors, you should know this: you never, ever give an inexperienced actor a crying scene. It's 99.9% of the time painful to watch, and to make matters worse, apparently only Mitch's right tear duct works.

While Mitch is having an epiphany, the Tops gymnasts are getting ready to hop on a bus and head to Phoenix, and Mitch is nowhere in sight. Oh noes! Will Mitch make it to the meet? Maybe Coach Man Boobs and Cowboy Kirk are "driving separately," and they can "give him a ride."
Who the eff staged this scene? When is squatting appropriate?

Oh, that's right. Mitch has his own wheels, which miraculously reappear. As you might recall, Mitch rode a dirt bike to the edge of the cliff, but when we next see him, he's driving his windowless, doorless, American-made P.O.S. How that I happened, I don't know. I really get the sense that the directors just stopped giving a shit at the end of this movie.

By another stroke of luck, Mitch and MILF the Mom just happen to cross paths. Mikey runs over to his mom, who reveals that she's going back to her abusive husband. (Hip hip hooray! This movie teaches us so many great lessons about family values!) No longer worried about his mother's safety, Mitch reveals his own great news: he's going to Phoenix to compete.

Then, Oedipus winks at his mom.

His face is clean here.

Until this point in the movie, there have been several "WTF" moments--the wink being one of them--but the biggest WTF moment happens in the next scene. We find ourselves in Phoenix where the gymnasts are getting ready for competition, and Bitchface Becky wanders away from the group. As we know, she has been putting in long hours at the gym, and her training looked really good. So, we would never expect that

Becky's pregnant with Mitch's baby!

Just kidding. Becky isn't Emily Kmetko, and this isn't Make It or Break It. Becky, it turns out, has had a knee injury all along.
Say what!? Where did THAT come from!?

Mitch, of course, makes it to Phoenix in time for the meet, and Barbie, of course, happens to bump into him in the hallway. They start making out while Kirk watches them from afar.

Mitch tries to apologize to Julie, but she shushes him, which, of course, teaches girls a very valuable lesson: Men do not have to apologize when they are complete assholes.

Next, we get some awesome shots of the audience members. The entire biker gang has made the trek to Phoenix.
And so has Ginger Friction, whose hair is looking rather poodle-y.

And then the competition begins. Danny Squire, who shall be renamed Chewbacca because of his abnormal amount of body hair, does a whoosh-whoosh-giant into a whoosh-whoosh full-twisting double back, which is stuck with an UHHHH grunt. (You gotta love the sound effects in gymnastics movies.) He's awarded a 9.85 on rings.

Next up: Mitch Fuckin' Gaylord, but before he can be hoisted up on the rings, the directors decide to fill time with some gratuitous, wanton homoerotic glances from Kirk.
Since Kirk saw Steve and Julie making out, he knows that Steve is off the market, but hey! It's okay to look, right?

I'm curious about the fashion choice for the final competition. Why all white? Sure, it shows off your abs, but it also shows off the fact that it's cold in the gym and you're nipping out as a result. Plus, I feel like you should be allowed to wear all white if and only if you are a virgin, which Mitch is not.

During Steve's routine, there's a lot of whoosh-whooshing, some really shitty strength holds, and a full-twisting double "layout," which is really piked. He has a slight hop back and a HUUUUGE grunt on his dismount. He gets a 9.80. OH NO! He's 0.05 behind!

Over on the balance beam, Becky Cameron scores a 9.80 after performing a routine with no whoosh-whooshing, but a grunt on the dismount. The Hoff seems to be happy with that.

Then, we get our first glance at "The Flash." (That's movie's nickname for her--not mine.) She's the number one gymnast in the United States, and she's up on balance beam. Even though she has a nickname that's just about as crappy as the names of the female American Gladiators (Ice, Storm, Blaze, Zap...), I still like her--mostly because she does one of those old school, cockeyed salutes.
Like Becky, The Flash is not privvy to the whoosh-whooshing sound effects, but The Flash does grunt when she lands. Afterwards, Barbie says, "That was beautiful," and then gives Becky a huge bitch face.

Lesson learned: You should forgive your abusive asshole of a boyfriend, but you should not forgive your female friend who calls you out when you flake on her. Barbie clearly has great priorities.

Over on floor exercise, Anna Li's dad is competing.
And instead of commentators, we once again are treated to Kirk's facial expressions.

Kirk is the Lauren Tanner of the show. He'll kill you if he has to.

Of course, Kirky Boo Boo Child doesn't give Mitch the same dirty looks. Oh, no. Before Mitch performs on floor, Kirk stares at Mitch's crotch in the same way that a hungover frat boy stares at a greasy, juicy, plump breakfast sausage. 'Cause that's what male gymnasts do. 'Cause every male gymnast ever known to man is gay. Just ask Google.

Google search never, ever lies. *Eye Roll*

Unfortunately for Steve, the homoerotic glances aren't good luck charms 'cause he definitely does his backhandsprings with bent knees.

A 9.75 for him, which, I guess, is good. At least, Kirk thinks so, and he gives Steve a high five before leaning in to kiss him.
So handsy!
 Just kidding. But doesn't it look like Kirk is about to kiss him?

From there, we head to the balance beam where Barbie is performing. She does a round-off backhandspring stepout mount. Later on, she does a backhandspring stepout into a layout stepout, and she ends with a double full. Just like Mitch, she gets a 9.75. OMG! TWINSIES! They were meant to be together!

I realize that this is inappropriate, but I'm making a point: the writers, editors, and director went out of their way to sexualize Barbie. No other female character spreads her legs as much as Barbie does. Seriously. Just wait until floor exercise!

After balance beam, Julie finds herself in third place, and after floor exercise, Mitch finds himself in 7th place. Kind of. You see, the movie is trying to be tricky. It wants you to believe that Mitch is in 7th place overall, but we gym fans know better. Mitch had the 7th highest floor score, which doesn't necessarily mean that he is 7th in the all-around after 2 rotations.

At this point in the meet, things start to drag on. So, instead of recapping every routine for you, I'll just summarize what we learn. First, we learn that improper matting was not just a problem on the 2012 Kellogg's Tour; it was also a problem at the 1987 U.S. National Championships. Look at Becky using the men's landing mats as a runway.

We also learn that the women in this movie really suck at vaulting.
 Like, really suck.

 Is she an ostrich with her head buried in the mat?

Even though their vaulting is less than stellar, the gymnasts are super good at other things... like cowboying.

 Daaaaaang, they're good, aren't they?

Oh, and one more thing: we learn that Anna Li's dad started the men's gymnastics towel tradition.

Eventually it's time for Becky to take to the floor, but before she does, Barbie, of course, has to make her presence known. (Are you surprised? I mean, the world revolves around Barbie and her vagina in this movie.) Barbie puts one hand on Becky's shoulder, and without saying a word, she heals their relationship. Just like Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, Barbie knows how to make bitches get along.

Feeling freed of any lingering animosity between Barbie and her, Becky goes out there and does her floor routine. It appears that the directors did not understand much about gymnastics. You see, on Becky's hurt knee, she's able to do a front through to a double back, another double back, and a double full--without falling on her head. But she collapses to her knees after doing a jump double turn. (And when she does, she pounds her fists on the floor, throwing the biggest temper tantrum ever seen in gymnastics history, which is saying a lot, given recent temper tantrums in gymnastics...)

After her routine, the Hoff carries her off the floor. (Keep in mind that this was written long before Kerri Strug's iconic vault.) Of course, Barbie is there to comfort her BFF by checking to see if Becky has a fever.
Let's keep in mind that Becky has a knee injury. She's not dying of Malaria. So, why is Barbie checking her temperature?

Anyway, Barbie is next on floor, and she is set to do her old floor routine--the unforgettable one with the booty shake to the little-kid-circus music.

But all of a sudden, Ginger Friction, Julie's cousin, yells from the stands, and upon hearing his voice, Barbie is all like, "I'm taking my gymnastics career into my own hands. I know what's better for me than you do." And so she pulls Ginger Friction's 80s synthesizer music out of her bag and hands it to the lady standing by the boombox.

In case you can't tell, American Anthem is one of many 80s flicks that laud youths who dare to defy authority, but, unlike The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Footloose, etc., American Anthem has a secret weapon: Julie's high-cut leotards. They're the ultimate act of defiance. 

As I watched Julie's floor routine, I noticed something. I think that they gave her two leotards: one for tumbling, which actually fits her, and another for dancing, which makes her vagina play peek-a-boo with the camera. Look for yourself.


No peek-a-boo.

To make matters worse, whoever choreographed Barbie's routine decided that Janet Jones should spread her legs every 2 seconds.

That's only a fraction of the leg-spreading, which Ginger Friction is LOVIN' in the stands.

By the way, I LOVE that this meet is sponsored by Dunkin' Donuts.

Barbie has scored a 9.95, and she has won the meet, beating the Flash, who was ranked number 1 going into the meet!

OMG! I think that I just threw my shoulder out from cheering so hard!

Next up: Mitch Gaylord on high bar! Right before he goes, Coach Man Boobs tells him that he can't catch the leaders, but if scores a 9.85 or better, he'll finish third in the all-around. Last night, on his outdoor high bar, in the rain, he was really sucking. OMG OMG! Can he do it? OMG OMG!

Of course, Kirk thinks he can.

Despite Kirk's confidence in him, Mitch still has his doubts, but then, wonder of wonders! Miracles of miracles! Mitch's dad shows up out of no where to support his son. Once again, this is supposed to be a touching moment, but in my head, I'm doing the math. Could Mitch's dad made it to Phoenix in time? At the beginning of the meet, when the National Anthem was playing, Mitch's dad was still at home. And a trip between Flagstaff and Phoenix would take about 2 hours and 15 minutes by car, and we all saw the condition of the family's cars; they weren't exactly racing machines... So, maybe this is plausible?

Happy to see his dad, Mitch mounts the high bar, and he immediately starts grunting. (As gymnasts do.) And the crowd starts chanting, "10! 10! 10! 10!" (As crowds do during routines.) Amped, Mitchy does like 200,000 giants in preparation for his dismount, which is a clear sign that he's going to throw something big. But whatever could it be?

A triffus!
If your triffus looks like this, you're probably going to die.

And by triffus, I clearly mean a "full-twisting double back with an extra salto edited in." Of course, Mitch sticks the dismount cold, which results in a 10.0, the only one of the meet.

Mitch is in third and Chewbacca is in fourth!

The crowd goes wild! And so does Kirk, who comes from behind and awkwardly congratulates Mitch's left nipple while squealing in ecstasy.

Becky and Barbie go wild, as well! In fact, Mitch's routine brings Becky and Barbie even closer, teaching young girls that a man should be at the heart of every strong female friendship.

If this were the 2012 Olympics, there would be some judging inquiry, resulting in one final moment of suspense. But there isn't. Instead, the end of the movie is rather rushed. There's some hugging. There's zero dialogue, and before you know it, the gymnasts are on top of the podium, saluting because they made the National Team.
Half of these gymnasts we've never seen before.

The camera zooms in on the faces of a few of the gymnasts, and the very last frame of the film is an unflattering shot of Mitch Gaylord's double chin. Where the eff did that come from?

The End.

Well, it's kind of the end. You see, the depth of this movie is never-ending. The credits screen is a poop-brownish color, which makes me wonder, Was the symbolism intended?

Well, there you have it--American Anthem, as told by Uncle Tim. Let's cross our fingers and hope that some Hollywood movie producer decides to remake this gem. Even though it would probably bomb worse than Footloose 2011, I'd go and see it several times. In fact, depending on who's in it, I might even see it daily.

Gym gods, make this happen! In the name of Mitch and his Gaylord (AKA Kirk), Amen.


  1. This is amazing! "OMG! TWINSIES! They were meant to be together!" Completely makes my day.

  2. This was just in Encore. I have tears from laughing so hard reading this! You nailed it.