Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Barack Obama was born in the U.S.A., Dinesh D’Souza concedes in his documentary “2016: Obama’s America.”
That’s as close to moderation as this nutty film gets.
A surprise box-office hit, the $2.5 million “2016” has sold $9 million of tickets since expanding nationwide from its July 13 debut at a lone Texas theater.
Fueled by talk-radio support (notably from Rush Limbaugh) and group pre-sales, the anti-Obama screed is now playing across the country and took the eighth spot on last weekend’s box-office roster, sandwiched between “Premium Rush” and “Hope Springs.”
The choir being preached to apparently isn’t lining up for cinematic polish or storytelling finesse.
D’Souza, an ultra-right-wing pundit and author of “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” co-directs with producer John Sullivan. Their filmmaking inexperience announces itself with every badly performed “re-enactment.” (Another “2016” producer, Gerald R. Molen, has production credits that include “Minority Report” and “Schindler’s List.”)
Endless footage of D’Souza wandering the slums of Kenya and Indonesia (often accompanied by horror-film music) gives “2016” a “Mondo Cane,” freak-show-style voyeurism.
In short (and very little in this talky, 90-minute lecture feels short), the driving theory of “2016” is that Obama can be understood only within what D’Souza calls an “anti-colonial framework.”
Specifically, the leftist, anti-Western anti-colonialism of Barack Obama Sr., the Kenyan father young Barry saw only once after the future president was 2 years old -- when he was all of 10.
D’Souza supports his thesis with cherry-picked facts and pseudo-scholarly leaps of logic.
A psychology professor says that “many young men have this experience of disappointment with a father,” offered here as some sort of Rosebud to explain Obama’s insatiable desire to render the United States a weakened, nuke-free bastion of Third World collectivism.
The national debt, which D’Souza loads squarely on Obama’s shoulders as if George W. Bush never happened, is “a weapon of mass destruction.”
In a butter-wouldn’t-melt voice and near-constant expression of dour concern, D’Souza resurrects many a right-wing bugaboo, from Obama’s “weirdly sympathetic” feelings for Guantanamo detainees, to control of the Falkland Islands.
He makes much of the impoverished living conditions of Obama’s Kenyan half-brother George Obama (“Is he not your keeper?” D’Souza asks), and uses Invading Hun map graphics to demonstrate how the Middle East could morph into the “United States of Islam.”
Inevitably, “2016” finds its way to Obama’s “founding fathers,” who, D’Souza assures us, were not Thomas Jefferson and George Washington but leftists like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Columbia University professor Edward Said, labor activist Frank Marshall Davis and former Weather Underground co-founder Bill Ayers.
With names like that, “2016” seems more 2008, though nothing screams bad timing as loud as D’Souza’s peculiar obsession with NASA.
The former “symbol of greatness,” D’Souza claims, has been reduced by Obama into something “more modest,” a sort of high-shuttling Greyhound bus line.
D’Souza clearly didn’t see Mars coming. Along with historic photos and international good will, NASA’s Curiosity rover can now claim the deflation of a self-regarded Nostradamus among its accomplishments.
“2016: Obama’s America,” from Rocky Mountain Pictures, is playing across the country. Rating: *
What the Stars Mean: ***** Fantastic **** Excellent *** Very Good ** Good * Poor (No stars) Avoid
(Greg Evans is a critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
Muse highlights include Ryan Sutton on food and Hephzibah Anderson on books.
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