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Overall Rating
3.29

Awesome: 5.88%
Worth A Look41.18%
Just Average41.18%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 11.76%

2 reviews, 5 user ratings


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Al Franken: God Spoke
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by Erik Childress

"Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness – Except O’Reilly, Coulter, etc…"
4 stars

SCREENED VIA THE 2006 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: There are some people you wish you knew or at least had a camera on during the peak hours of their day. George Clooney comes to mind. George Carlin is an A-list candidate. It’d be interesting to follow around another George in the White House just to find out what the hell he’s thinking. Al Franken doesn’t have the benefit of being on a list of Georges but he does deserve to be on that list, if not his very own. Since the 70s he has written for Saturday Night Live, becoming a treasured featured player in his own right for his trademark impersonations and has since evolved into one of the most recognizable players of the leftist political community. Bad word or not, Franken has fought for liberal causes by calling out the right on their own turf with their own words, spin control and flat-out bullshit. There’s an attack from those he opposes just waiting in the wings for every word spoken and it’s going to take a lot of hot air to fuel them after watching this film. Then again, they probably never will and say they did.

God Spoke begins with the notion that the Almighty has commissioned Franken to take down the outspoken hypocrites of the Right and use them as the golden path to decommission George W. Bush once and for all. Naturally, God is not one for side-taking even if some high-ranking Republicans feel as such. Filmmakers Nick Doob and Chris Hegedus (the latter responsible for such docs as The War Room and Startup.com) chronicle Franken from his book tour (“Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right”), the formation of Air America radio and the various detours on the road to the 2004 Presidential election.

Franken rolls when shredding Bill O’Reilly over his various falsehoods and the infantile retaliation he uses on an audience who absorb his words as fact rather than opinion. Al seeks the truth and offers readily-available statistics to demolish his opponent’s leaps in judgment to incite people. (Like a Fox reporter who dismisses the U.S. death toll in Iraq since more deaths happen in California which is roughly the same size.) Franken gets to meet all his nemeses in the film. The vile Ann Coulter in a public forum says the historical figure she’d most want to be is Joseph McCarthy. Sean Hannity constantly tries to bury the lead in his face-to-face on Franken’s show. O’Reilly goes so far to suggest on TV that Franken has “emotional problems.” Perhaps he heard about the confrontation with Michael “Head So Far Up His Ass Even His Own Colon Rejects Him” Medved who denies actual quotes despite the evidence right in front of him where Franken could barely contain himself from throwing something at the one-time film critic.

It’s the passionate outbursts like this from Franken which showcase that he’s not just another smug know-it-all who traded the funnies for politics. He’s sly, calm and infectiously laughs off most of the attacks on him and the truth - which brings some real power and emotion when he sidesteps to chastise a moderator for calling a friend of his “obscure.” A movie full of confrontation might have seemed a little too Michael Moore for people, especially since the period the film covers feels like ancient history now what with all the scandals and cock-ups Bush’s second term has already produced. The film’s foray into Air America’s beginnings and it’s subsequent financial troubles is an afterthought to anyone who saw HBO’s more extensive Left of the Dial. But where O’Reilly and the Rightiacs will sharpen their claws is on the denouement when Franken announces his intention to consider running for office in Minnesota. In the context of the story, it’s a natural progression for Franken – but it also has the unfortunate appearance that the film has been nothing but one big campaign calling card; a criticism lobbied at Jeff Santo’s doc, This Old Cub, in favor of his father’s bid for the Hall of Fame and even at Philip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff, deemed a love letter to John Glenn’s run for the Presidency.

God Spoke is not the most clearly focused of documentaries. It’s settings are a bit erratic. Sometimes it’s a touring film, then a radio featurette and then Life with Franken. The ultimate goal may have been to win back the country from Bush, but as a finale the election is an afterthought much the way it is now. But because their lead subject is so entertaining there’s very little for Doob and Hegedus to do but turn the camera on and get out of the way. Splashing in old SNL clips serve Franken’s range but also pad out the running time. This may be the ultimate battleground for Left vs. Right, firing their tanks from each side but never taking a step towards the middle. The Right spread rumors and assumptions to those already on their side and the Left yells at them for doing so. As I have personally done in my battle with the quote whores of my industry, Franken does just the same with O’Reilly, Coulter, Hannity and the others out to serve their own agenda with rampant (and often despicably untrue) hyperbole. On that level, Franken is a master and we need someone like him to both laugh at and pound his fist at the other side, not for mere disagreements but for their own God-like attitudes that what they say is the spoken, written and final word on the subject. By George, what was that ninth commandment again?

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13851&reviewer=198
originally posted: 03/09/06 12:03:12
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This film is listed in our political documentary series. For more in the Political Documentary series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 San Francisco Film Festival For more in the 2006 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2006 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/02/07 David Pollastrini Liberal Trash 1 stars
9/02/06 BC Wow, you are stuck on stupid...and so is Franken. Avis reader who will never come again 1 stars
5/07/06 Suzie We need more eloquent left-wing proponents like Franken to step up. Great subject. 4 stars
4/21/06 margotkidding Entertaining parts, but the sum of them is pretty incoherent. 3 stars
4/21/06 Amanda Fantastic! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  13-Sep-2006
  DVD: 24-Apr-2007

UK
  N/A

Australia
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Directed by
  Nick Doob
  Chris Hegedus

Written by
  (documentary)

Cast
  Al Franken
  Bill O'Reilly
  Ann Coulter
  Sean Hannity
  Michael Medved



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