Review: In Smog and Thunder

n Smog and Thunder
“The Great War of the Californias”
(Smart Art Films / Pop Twist Entertainment)

Smog Town vs. Fog Town. Sunset Strip vs. The Castro. Los Angeles vs. San Francisco. There can be only one victor. “In Smog and Thunder” is a satirical take on traditional war documentaries and the quirks of northern Californians and southern Californians. No one is safe in this mocumentary. Every minority is hit, every sexuality is hit, every public icon is hit, every stereotype is beat to death, but it is all in a goodhearted and fun way.

Tensions between L.A. and San Francisco have been growing for a long time and this is the portrayal of what finally happens when those tensions break. General Juan Gomez de los Angeles led the first assault in this tragic civil war by striking a surprise attack on the heart of San Francisco. From that point on, there was no turning back. Bodies littered the streets while modern day generals on motorcycles directed platoons into combat. The fictional film is based on 120 satirical paintings by Sandow Birk. Even though Birk is from SoCal, he shows no favoritism in this film.

What began as an art exhibit by Birk turned into an audio tour. The audio tour eventually led to the film. From the Bay Area’s sneak attack on L.A.’s ports (it was sneaky because no one in L.A. realized they had ports) to the actress turned general who goes nowhere (not even to battle) without a ready supply of headshots, “In Smog and Thunder” has something for every Californian. The people of Los Angeles don’t even realize they are involved in a civil war at first. Even when San Franciscans have flooded the freeways, left gaping holes in roads and fired at the traffic chopper, Angelenos go on about their day as though nothing was amiss.

Meanwhile, the biggest worry about the war hitting San Francisco is whether or not people will still be able to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge without spilling their coffee. Birk also takes a hard crack at corporate America’s greediness in advertising. Ads for Nike, CBS, Starbucks, and every other company under the American sun have bought space on every general’s horse, city’s battleship or porn star-turned-soldier’s gun. There is no space to small that can’t be advertised on. So get behind the San Franciscans or the Angelenos, pick up a gun, find a horse, drink a half rack of Miller and kill some enemies before they get past the 405.