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September 11, 2018

Trump Inspires ‘Halloween’ and ‘Truman Show’ Knockoffs

If you can’t get enough of Donald Trump in the news and on social media, the current President of the United States of America will soon take over the big screen. While plenty of documentaries and satirical programs based around Trump have been abundant since even before he moved into the White House (and Michael Moore has another of the former arriving in theaters next week), it’s apparently time for his moment in the narrative film arena.

It’s not uncommon for sitting presidents to see themselves portrayed in movies, whether they’re direct biopics like W. and Barry or more fictionalized efforts such as Primary Colors and the notorious Death of a President. And they tend to also inspire presidential characters in movies, from minor roles in disaster flicks to protagonists in comedies such as American Dreamz. For Trump, we’ve already heard about a couple of biopics in the works. Now comes news of two fictitious offerings.

First up is a low-budget horror movie titled President Evil, and it’s a direct parody of the original Halloween, just in time for both the mid-term elections and the release of the new Halloween sequel. It’s actually set near the upcoming Election Day, as the official synopsis reveals: “Days before the November mid-term Elections, three young girls who are a Muslim, Mexican and Haitian, are stalked by a deranged killer dressed as the POTUS.”

Co-written and directed by Richard Lowly (Apocalypse Rising), the movie just looks like a cheap remake of Halloween in which Michael Myers wears a Trump mask instead of his signature William Shatner one. Obviously, it’s a good way to get attention on the project, even if the gimmicky hook isn’t as appealing to audiences as such easy buzz would seem to indicate.  There’s a teaser trailer, which you can check out here:

The other Trump-inspired movie in the news has a lot more prestige involved. Last week, filmmaker and VEEP creator Armando Iannucci tweeted a joke pitch for a movie — or really a preference? — in which the president is removed from his position and transported to a fake White House, but the catch is that he doesn’t realize he’s suddenly part of a ruse. The idea was popular enough that it not only attracted the desired involvement of VEEP star Julia Louis-Dreyfus but also studio interest.

The potential real movie, which could be called Fake America Great Again, as suggested by author Shaun Usher (“Letter of Note”) with approval from Iannucci, calls to mind a few films that already exist. There’s The Truman Show, which is also about a man living in an artificial existence — maybe The Matrix is related to this Plato’s Cave like concept, too. Then there’s Dave, of which this is the exact inverse: real president relocated to fake presidency substitute instead of fake substitute president serving as a stand-in for the real presidency. Wag the Dog has also been referenced.

I doubt Fake America Great Again will actually happen, especially since it wouldn’t likely be turned around fast enough to be relevant. And even then, like President Evil, there’s a difference between finding an idea funny and actually wanting to see the thing. Even with Iannucci writing and directing the comedy, do we want to watch a movie about a delusional and deluded Trump while he’s in office? What about afterward when most of his haters would rather forget about him?

Even if the movie could happen in the next two years, or however many years Trump is president, the best thing would be to not make the main character so explicitly Trump. Not in name or appearance. Just enough of a resemblance to make it clear the movie is inspired by him but not so much that it’s just an extended Saturday Night Live sketch. Otherwise, give it a couple decades and let it be a silly fictionalization of history and its disagreeable leaders, a la the 1999 Watergate comedy Dick and Iannucci’s latest movie, The Death of Stalin.

On top of these two newly revealed Trump-inspired movies, there’s also the upcoming DC villain origin story Joker, in which Batman’s father is supposedly being modeled after the current president’s younger self (Alec Baldwin, who has famously portrayed Trump on SNL, was initially cast in the role but later dropped out). And we’ve explored the likelihood of more horror movies being inspired by Trump’s presidency — he already had a major presence in the marketing for 2016’s The Purge: Election Year.

As we wait for President Evil and Fake America Great Again, there’s still Funny or Die’s parodical adaptation of the Trump book “The Art of the Deal,” which is now maybe less funny but more appropriately cast for having Johnny Depp in the lead. Watch that pre-election spoof here:

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