The Twentieth Century is one of the most ambitious films of the year. A sexually charged comedy that is part Canadian history lesson, part Monty Python, writer/director Matthew Rankin’s film is a wild ride that will please audiences while it confounds them. The movie mixes elements of biography, animation, and a constant stream of jokes to weave its tale. But does the movie go too far to be accessible?
The movie is a twisted take on the life of Mackenzie King. In real life, King served three terms as the Prime Minister of Canada. He guided the country during World War II and was a constantly in the political scene. In The Twentieth Century, King is a proud Canadian who has a barely controllable foot fetish and is constantly trying to fulfill his destiny.
The look of the film is straight out of the early twentieth century. Things play out like a newsreel that has been divided into chapters. Few colors are used and the entirety of The Twentieth Century is bathed in Sepia tone. Set pieces and characters are from movies of a bygone era. It immediately grabs the attention of the audience.
The Twentieth Century is an incredibly funny movie. Rankin is constantly throwing jokes out. There are visual gags, moments of wit, and just straight up WTF moments. The Tests of Leadership are a hilarious combination of all three. Since the comedy follows the philosophy of throw everything at the wall and see what sticks, there will be some jokes that do not land. It is not so much about the script being unfunny. It is very much a case of “is that a joke?” This will be the most polarizing aspect of The Twentieth Century.
There are layers to the movie that only those familiar with Canadian history will fully appreciate. The film is filled with many moments and comments that are obviously references. Even those who are not completely in on the joke will be able to have a laugh. Still, The Twentieth Century is a wacky story that is a thoroughly fun and enjoyable watch.
The Twentieth Century premieres in virtual theaters November 20.
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