Case Number 21089: Small Claims Court


History Channel // 2010 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bryan Byun (Retired) // April 9th, 2011

The Charge

Could the President's Book of Secrets be found in...The President's Book of Secrets?

The Case

Who killed JFK? Did aliens really crash in Roswell in 1947? Can the answers to these questions be found in a Presidential...BOOK OF SECRETS? These are the questions asked again and again (and again...and again) in this History Channel schlockumentary. And just in case you were thinking that any vital national secrets, including the existence of this book, would actually be revealed on this DVD, here's a spoiler: nope.

There actually are one or two interesting tidbits of information on the disc, such as the extensive security measures the Secret Service implements for Presidential motorcades for even minor excursions, and extra, super extended Presidential succession plans in place in case of a national catastrophe. But mostly what we find out is that nobody knows nothin', which is pretty much what we all already know.

So...what's left to discuss? Not a whole lot. Somehow, though, the History Channel manages to take five minutes of substance and whip it up with 90 minutes of filler, half of which consists of unanswerable, but dramatic questions ("What secrets are passed down to each United States President?" "What information is so secret that even the President can't be told?"), and the other half responding to those questions with the same question, over and over: "Could this information be a President's Book of Secrets???"

By the time this interminable, pointless mess crawls to an end, you'll wince every time you hear some combination of "secrets," "book," and "book of secrets," all delivered in a hyper-dramatic, "IN A WORLD..." movie trailer voiceover.

I did learn something from this show, though. First of all, apparently only Republican administration flunkies have the spare time to appear in schlock like this, since only one of the interviewees is from a Democratic administration. Second, there's a great drinking game to be had in taking a drink every time footage of President Obama is shown onscreen as the narrator mentions assassination, shooting at, or blowing up, the President, or some other vaguely threatening phrase implying some danger to the President.

This "documentary" is the kind of disingenuous claptrap that salivates over all manner of outlandish conspiracy theories while insisting that conspiracy theories are nonsense. It's basically conspiracy porn dressed up as infotainment, like those alarmist TV specials that engage in outraged hand-wringing over kiddie porn while serving up images of scantily-clad teens. Don't get me wrong, I care for some good tinfoil hat action. Crop circles? Ancient astronauts? I'm on board. But you'll get more satisfaction out of your collection of The X-Files DVDs than this hokum.

Could there be super-secret special features contained in...The President's Book of Secrets? Possibly, but it would take NSA cryptographers to unlock any extras on this otherwise apparently bare-bones DVD. Who is "Dolby," and can his "digital" sound be contained in...The President's Book of Secrets? Yes, in a perfectly adequate 2.0 stereo (English-only) track. Could there be secret labs scattered throughout the United States producing images so secret that they can only be viewed on top secret government technology known as "DVD players"? And could this "video" be found in...The President's Book of Secrets? Yes, and those images are presented, albeit super-secretly, with perfectly acceptable clarity, depending on the source material.

The President's Book of Secrets is an absolute must-buy for anyone amassing a video library of overly dramatic narrators asking rhetorical questions. Everyone else will be better off renting one of the National Treasure movies, which at least have Nicolas Cage delivering the overwrought exposition. If there's a reason for anyone not wearing a tinfoil hat as they read this to watch this waste of time, that reason may only be found in...The President's Book of Secrets.

The Verdict

Guilty or not guilty? Well that's the real question, isn't it? Why? The how and the who is just scenery for the public. Oswald, Ruby, Cuba, the Mafia. Keeps 'em guessing like some kind of parlor game, prevents 'em from asking the most important question, why? Who benefited? Who has the power to cover it up? Who?

Review content copyright © 2011 Bryan Byun; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 30

Perp Profile
Studio: History Channel
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb