When the idea of screening Kevin Willmot’s C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America (2004) was brought up several months ago at a Nickelodeon Film Selection Committee meeting, I was all over the idea. A mockumentary history of the country if the Civil War had gone the other way - it sounded fun, edgy, controversial.
As far as commercial appeal goes, it certainly was. We had the foresight to run it for a week - pretty much the maximum for a small art theatre where films are booked months in advance - and it has apparently done extremely well. I went last Sunday afternoon and it was completely sold out. I finally was able to catch the final showing last night and it was packed. I suspect the Nick has made more off it than any film this quarter.
And you know what? It’s not that funny. Oh, it’s “brilliant,” and witty and incisive, I guess. It’s an alternate TV history send-up of Ken Burns “Civil War” series, with still photos, somber voice-overs experts and a variety of faux media illustrating the triumph of the South over the misguided machinations of the North, interspersed with suitably appalling commercials geared toward a slave-holding modern audience.
I was bored, though, partly because I suddenly remembered I don’t like satire that much; generally it’s a form of humor in which the punch line comes first, and then gets repeated ad nauseam. What made this one so turgid was that it had no sting to it; the only people who would have been remotely offended are whackjob Confederate loyalists. Who cares?
It was produced by Spike Lee, whose Bamboozled bites down a lot harder.