Tina Fey’s impression of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live isn’t the first — or last — satire of the political scene. There are many movies that make fun of the democratic process and those who hold positions of power.
Whether it’s because of American Dreamz’s tendency to play into racial stereotypes or because of how embarrassingly unfunny it is, this film is outright offensive.
The movie is about a reality TV singing competition called American Dreamz that has its final results read on live television by the president of the United States, a caricature of George W. Bush played by Dennis Quaid.
One of the show’s rising stars is Omer Obeidi (21’s Sam Golzari), a bright young boy of Middle-Eastern descent with a knack for show tunes. Also, he’s a terrorist whose participation in the competition is part of a plan to blow up the president.
One would think 2006 film industry was past such blatantly racist plotlines, but writer/director Paul Weitz must have thought the country wasn’t ready for real satire.
American Dreamz’s uncouth slew of jokes doesn’t prompt even a guilty chuckle and is not worth an hour and a half of anyone’s time — time that could be better spent waiting in line to vote. — Matt Ferrara
Man of the Year
American citizens elect a comedian as president of the United States in Man of the Year.
Robin Williams, who stars opposite Christopher Walken and Laura Linney, plays Tom Dobbs, the comedic host of a late-night political talk show. Dobbs garnishes wide support when he decides to run for president.
Man of the Year is a criticism of politics. It inspires hope in a generation of American voters who get their information from talk shows and respect hosts for their biting cynicism. At the same time, the film shows a lack of respect for actual politicians — all of the ones in the film are minor characters with no development.
Though the film would have been good enough as a thought-inspiring comedy, a more intense issue arises involving electronic voting machines.
The movie is a little erratic. Some scenes are light-hearted and full of pop culture references, and others are quite heavy. Man of the Year starts as a pure comedy and, 115 minutes later, finishes on a dramatic note.
For those who are easily swayed by conspiracy theories: vote first, then watch. For others, Man of the Year will be fun to watch as a precursor to checking out the election results. — Christine Labit
Head of State
Before Robin Williams in Man of the Year, Chris Rock ran for president in 2003 in his comedy, Head of State. There are two key differences between the films: Rock doesn’t play a comedian, and his film is actually funny. Rock plays Mays Gilliam, an alderman from Washington, D.C. who runs for president.
In one of his funniest roles, the late Bernie Mac co-stars as Gillian’s brother, who is running for vice president. Nick Searcy plays Gillian’s Bush-like opponent and uses the campaign slogan: “I’m a war hero, and I’m Sharon Stone’s cousin.”
While this movie likely did not affect voting, it sure makes for some laughs. — Joe Polito
My Date with the President’s Daughter
Not all political films focus on the president. Disney’s film, My Date with the President’s Daughter, focuses instead on the lives of his family.
This 1998 made-for-TV movie follows an awkward teenage boy, Duncan (Boy Meets World’s Will Friedle), who makes a bet that he can find a date to his high school dance. In a chance meeting at the mall, the girl he asks happens to be the president’s daughter, Hallie (Elisabeth Harnois).
The night takes a wild turn when Hallie decides that the date is the perfect opportunity to escape from the Secret Service and the rules she has to adhere to as First Daughter.
As with most Disney films, there’s a lesson behind the crazy antics. Duncan learns to be more responsible when dealing with the people he cares about, and Hallie realizes that everything her father does as president is in an effort to better the country.
Playing on the Disney channel Tuesday at 8 p.m., My Date with the President’s Daughter offers a glamorous and fictional glimpse of the difficulties — outside of the political rallies and elections — of being the leader of a free country and is an enjoyable family film for the election season. — Emily Handy
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Released during the Cold War in 1964, this black comedy spoofs the political and military insanity of the time.
General Jack D. Ripper starts a campaign against communism by ordering his men to attack the Soviet Union, which counters with the threat of a “Doomsday Device.”
It’s a race against time as a war room of politicians, generals and Dr. Strangelove — a former Nazi genius — try to stop the Soviet Union from blowing up the planet.
The film highlights completely ludicrous yet all-too-possible situations, with dialogue and imagery that is the result of comedic genius and is a political cult classic that shouldn’t be missed. — Robin Roup