Docurama // 2005 // 45 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ian Visser (Retired) // December 9th, 2005
Meet the elephants in Hollywood's closet.
Is there anything more frustrating than a wasted opportunity? There is little more irritating than an interesting concept or idea that fails to fulfill its promise. Unfortunately, this is the feeling one is left with after viewing the Docurama effort Rated R -- Republicans in Hollywood. What should have been an interesting and contrary look at politics ends up being the squandering of a great opportunity.
Rated R -- Republicans in Hollywood is a documentary written, produced, and directed by Jesse Moss, a former Democratic speechwriter. Moss' theory is that, despite current public opinion, Hollywood is full of active conservatives that want nothing to do with Martin Sheen or Barbra Streisand. In a series of interviews with Hollywood writers, actors, and media personas, Moss examines the stigmas -- real and imagined -- associated with being a conservative in La-La-Land.
Moss manages to score interviews with conservatives including Drew Carey (The Drew Carey Show), Michael Medved, John Milius (Red Dawn), Vincent Gallo (Brown Bunny), and Partricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond). All attempt to counter the perception that Hollywood is a modern-day Gomorrah run by ACLU-types, and is instead populated with a significant conservative base that organizes to promote its own agenda. Patricia Heaton, we learn, is particularly active, and speaks openly and often about her views and opinions.
But that's about all we learn. Moss includes only fractions of each interview in the film, and most of these consist of each subject repeating that they have concerns about their careers being damaged in a town where a lot of left-leaning people are in powerful positions. Ben Stein (Ferris Bueller's Day Off), manages to inject a little Hollywood history into his segment, but for the most part Moss is content to let the same points be repeated in each interview.
A second theme running through the film is Moss tagging along with the Arnold Schwarzenegger gubernatorial campaign in California. Moss tries to make some connection to his own interviews with this effort, suggesting that Arnold's campaign is the symbol of a new opportunity for Hollywood's conservatives to come out of the proverbial closet. Unfortunately, this effort falls as flat as any other part of the movie. The madness of the Schwarzenegger campaign has already been documented in far superior efforts, and Moss fails to recognize that most of the interview subjects were active conservatives long before Arnold decided to run for public office.
Part of the problem here is the running time. Made for television, and only a scant 45 minutes, there isn't much time to spend on such a complicated topic as politics in Hollywood. With such a limited window of opportunity Moss should have known better than to toss in an unnecessary pursuit of Schwarzenegger, interviews with Gary Coleman, and his own personal opinions on the topic.
Moss seems to have been studying up on director Michael (Roger & Me) Moore's techniques, and has come away with the idea that audience requires the filmmaker to be a character in his own film. A scrawny nebbish of a man, Moss is no Moore, to be sure. Moss' presence only serves to distract and irritate as he mugs for the camera and throws around unnecessary voice-overs describing his own actions. Please, documentarians of the world, stay behind the camera and let your subjects to the talking.
Viewers hoping for more content in the extras are in for another let-down. The interview outtakes barely warrant a mention, some being as short as twenty-two seconds. There had to be hours of material available, and the lack of their inclusion is just another disappointment. The three deleted scenes also have little new information, and a filmmaker audio interview is more of Moss expounding his own theories about the topic, instead of reporting what the actual conservatives had to say.
The video presentation of Rated R -- Republicans in Hollywood is generally good. The film mixes a number of sources, but for the most part the film looks fine with solid color and sharpness. The 2.0 Dolby audio does the job, but there isn't much to challenge it in a release such as this.
The feeling that one takes away from Rated R -- Republicans in Hollywood is one of disappointment. I would have dearly loved to hear more from people with a long history in the industry, such as Pat Sajak (Wheel of Fortune) and John Milius, but Moss ruins the opportunity with his ham-handed inclusion of the Schwarzenegger jaunt. The film and the viewer would have been much better served if director Moss had simply compiled his interviews and left well-enough alone.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 45 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Interview Outtakes
* Original Trailer
* Filmmaker Audio Interview
* Filmmaker Biography
* Official Site