The plot: “An idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.” – IMDB
My thoughts: A let down. That’s the general thing I took away from this movie – it was a let down. I’m a fan of Ryan, George, Paul, and Phillip (yeah, I know all of them by first name, come off it) and I will absolutely say that the acting was great. Right up until the end of the movie, I wanted to vote for George Clooney as my president. Definitely. And I wanted to vote for Ryan Gosling into a place in the chamber (chamber being my bed chamber. Eh? Eh?!) And Phillip Seymour Hoffman delivered as always, somehow menacing and humorous at the exact same time. How does he do it?
And to be honest, the plot wasn’t bad. It was, for three-fourths of the movie, interesting. It at least seemed like a relatively realistic look at a political campaign. Everything was strategy and everything was plotted out well in advance. And beyond that, the slightest of errors could ruin an entire campaign. I felt like all of the characters were very distinct but not so exaggerated that they became caricatures.
I did quite enjoy the setting being in Ohio and that they shot a majority of the film on location, albeit it was mostly at J. Crew U (Miami University) when they totally could have come to Athens and had a ton of amazing student interns and hired extras, thereby potentially putting some money into the poorest counties in Ohio. Either way, it was all in Ohio and it was Ohio, Ohio, Ohio and I felt a bit of pride for the state.
But what ruined what was actually not a bad movie (a bit slow, but then again, it’s a political drama) was the ending. (There will be spoilers.) The end was predictable and extremely anticlimactic despite having solid characters and a somewhat compelling plot. Basically, the movie is about a young, idealistic political consultant (Gosling) who makes a few mistakes and loses his job. Ultimately, he sacrifices his friendship with his mentor (Hoffman) to keep his job and hopefully work for the next president (Clooney), a man he doesn’t even really respect or trust at the end. Yeah, yeah, I know it was a commentary on what personal agendas, politics, and job security/power can do to a person. It can make a guy who believed in free education and equality and civil rights turn his back on all of that to save his own ass. Whatever.
Solid acting. A somewhat interesting plot. Visually nice. Hot cast. Stupid ending and ultimately, ineffective and obvious. I’m glad I didn’t pay for it, though it might be worth five dollars to see Ryan Gosling’s fine ass on the big screen.