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Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday's Top 5... Political Comedies

#5: The Candidate

The Candidate is a man who agrees to run a campaign guaranteed to lose simply to get his message out, and who gains the Democratic nomination simply because no one else in the party wants to run against the overwhelmingly popular Republican candidate. However, while the Democratic party needs someone to run, they also don't want to see him humiliated, which results in the would-be "say anything" candidate having his message tempered until it is basically meaningless... and gaining the lead in the polls in the process. A cynical and blackly comic Robert Redford vehicle, The Candidate is a movie that seems less and less like the satire it's supposed to be, and more like realism, with every election cycle.

#4: Bob Roberts

"The times they are a-changing back." Tim Robbins' directorial debut Bob Roberts is about a right-wing politician and folk singer whose corruption runs deep. He sings and lies his way through his campaign, using his charity as a front for drug trafficking which helps finance his run, and finally stages his own would-be assassination in order to clinch the win. The film is also the debut of Jack Black in a small role as one of Roberts' followers.

#3: In the Loop

From the mind of Armando Iannucci (the creator of HBO's Veep), In the Loop is a high intensity comedy that finds the US and the UK about to launch a war in the Middle East while the people behind the politicians (political advisors, military honchos, and other government officials) do their work to sway public opinion to either favor or oppose the war. In the Loop is one of the most inventively swear filled comedies I've ever seen, and it's as sharp as a razor blade.

#2: Wag the Dog

18 years later, Barry Levinson's Wag the Dog still ranks as one of the best comedies about American politics. The story of a Washington spin doctor who teams up with a Hollywood producer to manufacture a fake war that will distract voters from the President's most recent sex scandal just in time for the next election, Wag the Dog is funny and maybe just a little bit scary, and features great performances from stars Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman.

#1: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

It's hard to argue with perfection. Stanley Kubrick's classic Cold War comedy is one of the best films ever made, so it stands to reason that it would be the best film of its type. There's really nothing I can say about this movie that hasn't already been said. Just see it, love it, and then see it again.

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