Judge Brett Cullum harbors a secret crush on Condie Rice.
Dan Butler [to image of Karl Rove]: You have the most beautiful eyes. Has anyone ever told you that before? I wish I had those eyes. They have vision. When they look, they see the future. When I look, all I see is you.
In this absurd mockumentary, we have an out and proud gay actor (Dan Butler, "Bulldog" from Frasier) agreeing to do a one man show about Karl Rove. At first the project is designed to scoff and scorn the evil Republican mastermind of the Bush administration, but as Dan begins to identify with his new role his affection grows. Dan Butler begins to obsess, and even lust after the country's most infamous political puppet master. What is fascinating is that we get both an indictment of the Right Wing's misguided morality as well as a skewering of Hollywood liberalism when Butler horrifies friends and partner with his newfound fanatical support for Mr. Rove. It's all very The Blair Witch Project with Karl Rove substituting for the mythical murderous woman in the woods. Even the mostly awful digital video shots recall the indie horror genre. We watch in a slack jawed stupor as Dan Butler begins to identify so much with Karl Rove he actually berates his own dinner guests with Right Wing talking points. He learns how to demonize his opponents, and to lie and lie until it becomes believable to everyone including himself.
Dan Butler is no stranger to subversive comedy, and people who only know him from the Frasier sitcom have a lot to learn. He had wonderful success with his one man stage show called The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me… which established him as a unique queer voice in entertainment. He also did a disturbing turn as a psychologist out to "cure" homosexuals in the equally dark Fixing Frank. This material seems to be a logical extension for him to explore some of the funnier sides of both hating and loving the Right Wing. What is amazingly well balanced is how Butler screws The Right to the wall, but takes the fanatical Left along with it.
On DVD the film is presented without any frills. The Verdict received a screener which had nothing save for the film in its fullscreen digital video glory. The project was shot on the fly with digital cameras, so the visual presentation is sometimes shaky and rarely robust. Sound is also on the fly, and sometimes has to utilize subtitles to be understood. It might make a more logical rental than purchase, but certainly the material is strong enough to warrant ponying up some cash for the disc to add to your library. The film started back in 2004 when this topic was all the rage, and now with Obama in office it seems dated. Still, Karl Rove, I Love You has enough funny bits to be interesting on DVD. Dan Butler is wonderful to watch, so it seems worth it in the end.
The age of Bush and Rove may have passed, but the idea they could rise again should be enough to make savvy film audiences interested in this dark comedy. I wish the DVD distributor had seen fit to offer up extras, but glad to see this indie project out there. This is certainly worth a look for fans of independent gay cinema and political satire.
Guilty of being a horrifying and funny ride from scorn to adulation.
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