Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hurry Up Mid-Terms: I Want Your Money

In the time it takes to watch Ray Griggs’ new documentary, the current administration will rack up another $182,000,000 in debt. It’s not that long, either. While the makers of I.O.U.S.A. are strangely silent on the Obama debt explosion, it is nice to know some filmmakers have their eye on the ball. Audiences will even be able to see Griggs’ I Want Your Money (trailer here) when it opens in over 500 theaters tomorrow, though not in New York City (but it will screen in Albany, where the message of fiscal discipline is also sorely needed).

The trailer for Want is already something of an internet sensation, racking up over 450,000 views. It shrewdly showcases the strength of the film—bobble-head inspired animation featuring President Reagan schooling Obama in economics. It is often pretty funny in a subversive way. However, the lesson hews more closely to theory than nuts and bolts data, so it is doubtful to change many partisan minds. This is unfortunate, considering the opportunity Want has to influence the debate through its impressive distribution and attention grabbing animation.

Griggs and lead animator Alex Kahn nicely capture the famous twinkle in Reagan’s eye and the pomposity of his current successor. While the core audience might not groove to the caricature of President George W. Bush as a well-meaning frat boy, it establishes nonpartisan cred for the film. Still, the lecherous Bill Clinton jokes feel a bit old by now. (Indeed, it would be cleverer and more cutting to lampoon the ways he has cravenly sold his services since leaving office.)

Want also features a tea party rally’s worth of talking head interviews, including new media maverick Andrew Breitbart (disclosure: I have contributed to his Big Hollywood site), as well as imminently recognizable political figures like former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Steve Forbes, and Michael Reagan. Frankly, they probably should have been allowed more time to present their points, particularly someone like Forbes, who understands economics better than nearly anyone in public life today.

The facts are on Griggs side, so one wishes he used them more. Comparing the fiscal heath of a state like Texas to a New York teetering on the brink of insolvency makes the point, as does the economic record of the current administration. Want is pleasantly entertaining and surely cannot hurt, but it is unlikely to appreciably reshape the debate. It opens nationwide this Friday (10/15), including the Crossgates Cinemas 18 in the Empire State’s capitol.