Rick Launer, the self-proclaimed President of The Republic of Texas, is a man who dreams about the independence of Texas and its separation from the United States. When he’s not busy ruining Alamo reenactments, or attending rallies that support his beliefs, Rick picks fights with his mailman — who Rick believes is invading his land. However, the latest fight gets out of hand, quickly, and Rick soon finds himself standing off against the US government.
I have an interesting relationship with the state of Texas; even though I’m endlessly frustrated with the state, I often find myself defending against the attacks made against it because there are some good people and good places to be found here. However, there are times when the people (and government) live up to the state’s stereotypes. Particularly the crazy redneck stereotype. While “The Republic of Rick” was hilarious, it was surprising to find out the movie was based on a real person and an actual incident. At the same time, it wasn’t THAT surprising.
Rick Launer is a man who loves Texas and is passionate about everything that the state represents to him. With admiration for Davy Crockett, and a blind hatred for George Bush, as well as the entire US government, Rick starts The Republic of Texas — a militia group that supports the idea of Texas seceding from the US. After a fight with a mailman lands him on the front page of the local paper, Rick suddenly finds himself in the position of leader as people begin following him because they also share in his dreams and delusions. This new found power goes to Rick’s head and he starts causing trouble in a small Texas town. Eventually Rick is in over his head when he decides to take his neighbors hostage in an attempt to get the sheriff to release his ‘Minister of Intelligence’. A poor decision that causes Rick, and his simple-minded cohorts, to faceoff against the Texas Rangers and the US government.
“The Republic of Rick” is one of those movies that reminds you of the absurdities of real life and how nothing can ever be as strange and ridiculous. Not even a movie.
Living in Texas, you get use to hearing the rantings of people who want to see the state secede from the United States because people are that ridiculous. Not all, of course, but enough. Enough to be too many, at least. Anyhow, in all my years of living here, I have never heard of Rick Mclaren — a man who was part of the Republic of Texas movement and the bizarre situation of him taking his neighbors hostage. And most importantly, the man “The Republic of Rick” is based on.
Mario Kyprianou and Becky Leigh’s movie managed to both inform and entertain me, but I almost wish it had merely entertained. If only because now that I know about Mclaren, and this incident, it makes it that much harder to defend this gloriously conflicting state that I live in. With that being said, “The Republic of Rick” was a great deal of fun to watch and one of the few mockumentary comedies that I’ve genuinely enjoyed. It’s a movie that is extremely silly, and while that is something that would normally put me off, the absurdity of the source material blends in quite well with the movie's comedic style.
It works because “The Republic of Rick” knows how silly to be without going too far. Look at a movie like “Spinal Tap”; it’s a movie with ludicrous characters but it comes from the disillusionment that 'rock stars' have with reality. It allows there to be a feasibility in the satirical nature of the comedy, and it’s a similar case with “The Republic of Rick”. I can’t say the characters are realistic — although they do have their moments — but what the movie is mocking is believable. You know these types of characters, you know the baffling logic they have, and it makes the comedy more hilarious even in the goofier moments. Like one of Rick’s militia members having a meltdown over a Roomba.
There are other parts of “The Republic of Rick” but it’s in the small details and technical aspect of the production. The movie is set in ’98 and the film captures that look perfectly — and I know that doesn’t sound impressive since that was less than 20 years ago, but those details help make the movie. The fact that the movie was shot on what looks like Hi-8 or miniDV stock with a 4:3 aspect ratio is amusingly perfect, to me. It makes it seem as though it is a legitimate documentary that was being filmed at that time. It adds to the effectiveness of the look at what they were trying to accomplish, just like the choice in costumes or locations.
Overall, “The Republic of Rick” is a technically simple yet impressive mockumentary that's amusing and entertaining. The movie, and the characters, can be rather silly and goofy at times but you can't help but like these awkward characters — even Rick, to an extent — and the frequently misguided and poor choices they make. The comedy tone perfectly satirizes what is an astonishingly absurd moment in Texas history of an even more absurd character.