A G-rated indie goof set in a mythically perfect American burg that’s actually made up, location-wise, of landmarks from San Francisco to New York, this ensemble piece begins moving when a Pleasantville-style imbalance (after a population dip from 1,000 to 999, and a spilled cup of coffee) precipitates a rescue mission of sorts by the town’s hapless bureaucrats. But the vibe rarely expands beyond dozy Comedy Central skits sprinkled with ironic cliches rather than jokes, 99 percent earnest slo-mo quirk and 1 percent funky non sequitur (the characters sport brand names, like Plymouth Ray-Ban), most of it explained rather than performed. With much of the budget spent on travel and greenscreening (Mount Rushmore, the Hollywood hills, Times Square, the Golden Gate Bridge), the filmmakers’ families crowd the credits, and there is a shruggable, huggable amiability offsetting the self-consciousness. The nonstop flag-waving notwithstanding, overt social commentary is oddly avoided. Feel free to scan the film as a kind of cellar-theater satire on Celebration, Florida, which has more severely critiqued itself with its recent real-life murder and suicide.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 5, 2011