Will it fire up Obama’s critics?
While author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza may be the polar opposite in both political mindset and stylistic approach of controversial documentarian Michael Moore, his cautionary documentary “2016: Obama’s America” uses a similar structure to that of the famed (some would say infamous) filmmaker. D’Souza (author of the best seller “The Roots of Obama’s Rage”) himself narrates for long stretches, at first establishing the common ground he shares with Barack Obama both in age, foreign roots, and education (both were Ivy Leaguers).
D’Souza finds it curious that someone with such similar background to his own would end up with a wildly different perspective on the American experience, and this leads him on a quest to uncover the details of Obama’s childhood from his birth and formative years in Hawaii, (no birth certificate controversy here) through relocation to Indonesia with a stepfather to his eventual successful college education on the mainland.
D’Souza’s approach (an “explanatory framework”) is gentle and academic and for nearly the first hour carries little of the editorialized vitriol for which those pre-disposed to dislike the president may have hoped. Still, hearing the president read from his own “Dreams from My Father” provides (chilling, for some) insight into how his “anti-colonial” perspectives were likely influenced by his left-leaning father–even though the young Obama spent almost no time with the adulterous and alcoholic Obama Sr. (The president’s father married his mother while still married to a woman in Kenya with whom he had a family.)
Much of the film’s material, including Obama’s relationships with radicals such as Franklin Marshall Davis (pro-Soviet Communist), Bill Ayers (terrorist sympathizer), and Jeremiah Wright (militant pastor) is hardly new or revelatory, despite its still-eerie implications.
But what most viewers were likely to expect is the film’s stated premise: What will America look like if President Obama wins another term? The ominous tone and corresponding data (an interview with a former auditor general is on point but lacks gravity), indicate that Obama’s record of historic spending, unilateral nuclear disarmament, and diplomatic capitulation will have dire consequences. Yet only a small portion of the film elaborates on these issues and as a result misses a golden opportunity to present a truly dramatic and galvanizing oeuvre.
Indeed, “2016: Obama’s America” can’t be construed as a hatchet job on the president, nor does the polite and well-spoken D’Souza seem to aspire to such. So while his material can’t be easily disproved or marginalized like Moore’s emotive rants and innuendo, neither does his film succeed as sheer bravura entertainment.
Rated PG for strong language and smoking.
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