"Al Franken: God Spoke"
Directed by Nick Doob and Chris Hegedus.
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 10/2/06
Saturday I just figured, what the fuck? I'm already at a movie
theater, it's kind of shitty outside, so why NOT go see Al Franken
rail on Republicans for another 90 minutes? Shit, what's seven
So, I took a walk, then came back and
watched the new Al Franken documentary "Al Franken: God Spoke" at
the local indiehouse. Here's the thing--after a solid first
fifteen to twenty minutes, this documentary just wasn't very good!
In following Franken as he goes through 2004 with the launch of his
nationally-syndicated radio show on the Air America network through
the John Kerry lost presidential bid, "Al Franken: God Spoke" is
just old enough to not bring much historical perspective and just
new enough that we should be open for more insight on what
happened...IF any insight were to be presented.
But, the flick seems a bit scattershot,
moving between the Franken/Bill O'Reilly wars on television (and,
admittedly, O'Reilly does come off more and more as a Class A
whiner) to random Franken attacks on liars during his book promo
tour for his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and
Balanced Look at the Right to his personal life to random bits with
competing radio conservatives to old "Saturday Night Live" bits to
hang time with his writing and research group. Some of this is
funny--reliving old bits from the "SNL" days can always be funny, I
guess--but mostly, it not only paints reds as hopeless but Franken
as POINTless, because his satire style is to correct the mistakes of
the Republicans or conservatives as a whole but not present much in
the way of funny bits of his own. Reactionary comedy, I
guess...like I said, at times, this works. But for a 90-minute
film, I caught myself looking at the watch a lot during this film,
and that's because so many of the bits aren't that interesting and
Franken is often sitting around laughing at things he says that just
aren't very funny, which is strange, because I normally think he can
be pretty funny.
There are a couple of strangely poignant
moments, none better than the morning after the Bush re-election bid
becomes a reality...Franken is caught with some tears in the eyes
and it made me think back to when Bush won the election in 2004; I
distinctly remember thinking about moving to Switzerland, and for a
few days, I know that my buddy Dave Lee and I thought seriously
about leaving this country behind forever before I realized just how
crazy that sounded. But, it was a disappointing day, even if I
still think that Kerry had no shot of winning the thing anyway.
Franken also drops some knowledge on kids during a couple of high
school presentations regarding proper treatment of facts, scenes
that I thoroughly enjoyed as well.
But overall, "Al Franken: God Spoke" is a
bit of a disappointment, since I thought it would be funnier or at
least a film that would resonate with me on a deeper level.
That didn't happen, but the flick is still not a bad way to spend a
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard