Tim Heidecker is a master of playing entitled, inept, quick-to-anger men. His character in the film “Mister America” — with whom he shares the name “Tim Heidecker” and hopefully zero character traits — has such a sense of entitlement that he isn’t satisfied even after getting away with multiple murders.
“Mister America” is a fake documentary that begins soon after his character has beaten the odds and avoided life in prison. Rather than enjoy his freedom, he decides to run against the “rat” district attorney who tried to prosecute him for the 19 deaths he clearly caused at an EDM festival in Southern California’s San Bernardino County.
Heidecker’s “Mister America” alter ego has so much in common with another entitled, inept, quick-to-anger politician that Heidecker doesn’t point out the parallels, abiding instead by the old comedy rule, “you don’t put a hat on a hat.”
The title “Mister America” hangs the hat just fine. Like Heidecker’s other work — including his long collaboration with Eric Wareheim — the film explores every pathetic crevice in the vast canyon between who we try to be and who we are.
Watching Heidecker’s characters go through their janky campaigns, political and otherwise, we can assure ourselves that nothing we do, in our lives, could possibly be so awkward.
His rudeness is a comfort. We are never on his side. We are laughing with Tim Heidecker at “Tim Heidecker.”
Heidecker first adopted the persona eight years ago for Adult Swim’s “On Cinema,” which pairs him with a purported cinephile played by Gregg Turkington, the master of commitment behind shambolic standup comedian Neil Hamburger.
“Mister America” escalates their awkward dynamic — “Gregg only wants to talk about movies, I only want to talk about myself” — to a point where “Heidecker” might end up in a position to do real harm. (Beyond the real harm of killing 19 people.) As San Bernardino County district attorney, he pledges to eliminate every single crime, the kind of dopey promise that you wouldn’t expect to work, but then again, who can say?
You can watch our interview with Heidecker above, where we talk about turning verbal flubs to your advantage, his tortured interactions with the generous people of San Bernardino, and murders.
“Mister America” opens Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles. It is directed by Eric Notarnicola, who co-wrote it with Heidecker and Turkington.