Yes, it would seem that this was tailor-made for a man like me. A documentary featuring a camper full of retards who travel from the East Coast to Los Angeles, broadcasting “news reports” along the way? How could I lose? I rented this film at Amanda’s urging, and it just might be one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made. I won’t bother with a recap of the film, as Amanda covered that part nicely, but I will say that I have rarely seen so unnecessary a motion picture. At bottom, How’s Your News? is completely valueless. It’s not funny, nor does it reach my inner voyeur. Instead, it is an appalling waste of time; a grotesque freak show so exploitive and so mean-spirited that even I wanted to turn the thing off. Fine, I chuckled at the outset, especially at how the middle-aged guy who had a language all his own managed to have a “conversation” with a Jesus-spouting street preacher, but the act wore thin so quickly that I suddenly and with great force realized what Jonny’s been telling me all these months about my “tired” retard attacks. I simply had nothing to say. No, I’m not getting all soft and sentimental, but there was nothing humorous about these people whatsoever. They simply bored the hell out of me and I wanted to get far, far away.
As these people have no idea what the difference is between Nashville and Hot Springs (or perhaps even night and day), it makes no sense for them to take a road trip. They could just as easily have their newscasts from the backseat of a car, resting comfortably in the parking lot of a rec center. Then again, that would not have allowed the filmmakers to put them in one humiliating scene after another, all for our alleged benefit. And if, by some remote chance, this film was intended as a valentine to the mentally handicapped, then it is arguably the most condescending and dishonest film ever made. Does it make you feel all warm inside to watch some poor sap with cerebral palsy sit alone in his wheelchair in the middle of Manhattan with an odd-shaped microphone? Or what about the severely handicapped man who has his palm read by some glassy-eyed con artist? Or a mentally deranged, but not-quite-retarded woman embarrass herself to no end at a car repair shop? And what about those tunes they sing? Instead of laughing my ass off, as I thought I might, I was creeped out and felt like I needed a shower. It was made very clear to me that this film did not have to be made, yet Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the producers) willed it into existence, perhaps because they thought it was “edgy” to drive viewers under their couches with shame.
Interestingly, many of the subjects interviewed by the news crew came off far worse than even the most severely retarded gentleman on board the News Express. My favorite All-American dolt was found at a cattle auction in Amarillo, Texas. Asked about any books or movies he would recommend, he surprised no one when he said that he hadn’t read a thing (couldn’t, would be my guess), and that the only film he could remember was Message in a Bottle. To make matters worse, the hayseed actually liked the movie, saying that he was sentimental and enjoyed a good cry. While a retarded man might laugh at the speed by which he can transfer his excrement from the toilet to the wall, this Amarillo Slim has, as best as I can tell, all of his faculties. He has no excuses; only bad choices and a shit sandwich as his cultural diet. And the freaks we see on Venice Beach? They might not be officially “retarded,” but are they really superior to the objects of scorn with whom we ride across America? So maybe that’s it — Parker and Stone wanted to show that while we might mock the retarded and physically handicapped, most of America is hardly any better. On that point they are certainly correct, but there had to be a better way of presenting such a hypothesis. Sorry guys; this time around, I’m not biting.
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