American Goofballs: M*A*S*H (1970), The Right Stuff (1983)

Great American satirists like Robert Altman and Tom Wolfe eagerly eviscerate traditional ideals, revealing the bureaucratic absurdity at the heart of war and patriotism, not to mention other great characteristics like hotheaded competitiveness, media consumption, consumerist excess, and political aggression. In every scene we find men as children playing at adulthood. Except that foremost among the tools of resistance in these films is the formation of a natural camaraderie among the charismatic players. The playgrounds forge alliances, and through teamwork we transcend stupidity and actual great things happen. But The Right Stuff goes for something greater still when the exotic and unknown powers of an aboriginal ritual and a mesmerizing burlesque act serve as ultimately life-protecting incantations, stepping in where the common and jingoistic (and middle manager and engineer) fail. In doing so it rises from satire and attains a higher level.

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