I realize I may lose some of you with this (like perhaps Michelle, who I happen to know loves the Jimmy Stewart classic, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, an uplifting political movie if ever there was one). However, in this election season of nastiness and lies, I am not really looking for uplifting. Instead, I’m searching for funny. That is the way to my curmudgeonly little heart. I don’t believe you if you’re uplifting, anyway; I’m just waiting for your disillusionment to settle in.
Besides, this movie has everything you could want in a political movie. It has Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst playing the blondest best friends ever. It has Brian Krakow as a pothead trying to avoid the draft and inventing Quaaludes. It has Will Ferrell telling Bruce McCulloch he “smells like cabbage”. It has the song “Popcorn” by Hot Butter, which is possibly the most ridiculous song/band name combination ever and incidentally is also a really great dance song for you and some goofy friends with too much time on your hands. It has scintillating political commentary cloaked in absurdity with a good bit of double entendre.
Seriously, this movie is awesome. The premise – that Deep Throat was in fact two silly teenage girls who Nixon hired to walk his dog, Checkers – is refreshing because it makes such an absurd joke out of one of the worst political scandals in U.S. history. Even though Betsy (Dunst) and Arlene (Williams), our intrepid teenage heroines, are set up to look like airheads, they outfox everyone around them, from Woodward and Bernstein to Nixon himself. They bumble around, giggling and going roller skating and talking about French fries and school reports on turquoise jewelry, and just happen to get the president to resign, too. The level of silliness with which this all plays out is a great antidote to the unpleasantness of election season. And where else are you going to see a teenage girl’s fantasy of running away with Tricky Dick on a beach? Michelle Williams + Dan Hedaya 4-eva, you guys! It’s a pretty amazing moment when they clasp hands and spin in a circle in soft focus lighting. Yeah, it’s not weird at all.
I could go all English major on you and explicate certain scenes to discuss their feminist subtext or historical significance (“Let’s talk about what it really means when Betsy calls the president a ‘potty mouth.’”), but the fact is, this movie is just plain fun, and parsing it to find the hidden meaning kind of ruins it and makes it feel political, which is what I’m trying to avoid. So I’m going to do my duty as a responsible voting American and watch both the RNC and the DNC, the debates, and so on, but when it all gets to be too much, I’ll go back to this movie, if just for Betsy’s immortal reminder to Arlene, “You can’t let Dick run your life!”
Readers, care to share your favorite political movie(s)?