This is a pretty clever movie. America is out of money in the oil crisis of 1979 and the president comes up a crazy idea to run a variety TV show to get people to call and pledge a donation to pay the debt.
August 1979 was three months after the USA was hit with the oil crisis and over a year before the next presidential election. The reality for Americans was the fact that there was no fuel at petrol stations and may people had parked their cars on the side of the road. This movie makes good use of this fact. It starts with everyone wearing athletics clothes because they run everywhere they go and they live in their cars now.
If you watch Hot Shots or Airplane, much of the funny stuff happens in the background. Same thing here. You have to pay attention when watching it because you also don’t want to watch it twice. Its not very funny. Its just pretty clever.
The main actor is John Ritter from Three’s Company. He is president Chet Roosevelt, an idiot of the Roosevelt family elected purely because of his surname. He’s the guy that green-lighted this idea. The idea came of some idiot making a comment ‘what? like a callathon?’ and Chet said ‘a callathon? you’re a genius!’. The main idiot is Harvey Korman. He is the MC of the callathon. We hated him because he was the whip-stir alien in Star Wars Holiday Special.
Here’s something that didn’t make sense. The reason America was in a crisis, was that they couldn’t get more loans. They needed to pay back an existing loan to some Native America guy. The old Native American’s reason was “I just want to eat. Does that make me a bad guy?”. But later you see a huge enterprise that he owns. NIKE, or Native Indian Knitting Enterprise. So why foreclose on USA if you’re already making income from the clothes? I am pretty sure that the writer just wanted to wedge the NIKE joke in the movie and didn’t pay attention to the effect to the logic. Which doesn’t make sense. They rest of the movie had clever jokes.
Should you watch it? Yeah, why not. It’s not a B-movie. A b-movie tries to be serious and then fail miserably because they usually don’t have the money for proper effects/script/costumes. This is not that.