Director: Mario Kyprianou
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 5/10
Mario Kyprianou’s feature debut, The Republic of Rick, is a well-intentioned comedy that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. It’s shot like a mockumentary, however the filmmakers don’t really stick to that style, which gives the film an inconsistent structure. The comedy is sometimes on point, but it too often strays into outlandish goofball territory to be truly effective. This also prevents it from truly achieving the political satire it’s aiming for.
The film takes place in Texas in 1998, where Rick Launer (Dave Abed) is the Ambassador for The Republic of Texas, a group of separationists who don’t recognize Texas as being part of the United States. After a mishap involving the assault of a mailman, Rick is impeached from the Republic and starts his own Republic in order to lash out against the U.S. government.
The film is shot using very lo-res digital cameras in order to give it that late nineties feel, however this method doesn’t really work. If it was more clear that what we are watching is a documentary it may have been more effective, however aside from a few interviews there’s no indication that this is supposed to be real. It’s similar to how Richard Linklater injected interviews into his film Bernie. What’s more jarring is that the end of the film jumps forward to today, and the footage becomes crisp and hi-def. It was an interesting choice to create the film this way; it just doesn’t work for me.
Most of the characters in The Republic of Rick, including Rick himself and his loyal band of followers, are caricatures of the far right. There’s the gun-loving redneck, the uber-conservative Christians, and the paranoid conspiracy theorist. These characters were amusing at times, but often felt entirely too stupid. Granted, there must be some sort of diminished intelligence to blindly follow this man in the first place, but it was just too over the top.
Having the film take place in 1998 was a clever choice, and director Kyprianou full capitalized on all the bad fashion that time brought. From the tucked in acid washed jeans, to pastel colored shirts, to ridiculous ties that were entirely too long, he nailed it. Having the film set during this time also gave way to some humorous political jokes, however these were sparse, so the time period isn’t used a comedic crutch.
As with any comedy, the entertainment value in The Republic of Rick is determined by what makes the viewer laugh. For this critic, I found the film to be too outlandish and goofy, but there were a few gems of dialogue that had me chuckling. This also might be worth seeing simply to lay your eyes are the enormous dreamcatcher located in Rick’s trailer- it’s magnificent.