The War Room ★★½

I picked this as my penultimate check mark in this year's Criterion Challenge partly because of its run time but primarily because I'm a political wonk and I figured I could sort of zone out for the familiar stuff and get a kick out of anything I hadn't already heard or read about over the last 20 years.

There really isn't a lot of room for commentary. Condensing the entire 1992 campaign into just under an hour and a half means that the doc only surveys and doesn't go in depth into much of anything. We see a few minutes here or there of strategy sessions, with James Carville, George Stephenopolous, et al., brainstorming with some footage of same folks scurrying backstage at a rally or debate.

The absence of narration means that the footage has to speak for itself, which would be okay except that even for a viewer as enthused about the content as I am, there's a pervasive sense of "Yeah? So?" about what we're being shown. Released in 1993, the doc could afford to make assumptions about our familiarity with the key players and events, but 19 years later the film hasn't done itself any favors by abstaining from providing context either in the form of on-screen captions or a narration.

The big thing really is that it was amusing to be reminded that James Carville used to have (some) hair. I never made the connection until tonight, but I think Seann William Scott could play him. There's also a strong physical resemblance to Patrick Flueger (who played Shawn on The 4400), but I think Seann William Scott has the right kind of energy to balance Carville's laid back nature with his manic excitability.

How The War Room Entered My Flickchart
The War Room < Lifted --> #1421
The War Room < There Was a Father --> #1421
The War Room > Turistas --> #1253
The War Room < The Chipmunk Adventure --> #1253
The War Room > Valentine's Day --> #1208
The War Room > Hulk --> #1186
The War Room > Ghost Rider --> #1174
The War Room < The Russia House --> #1174
The War Room < Billion Dollar Limited --> #1174
The War Room > Blazing Saddles --> #1172

The War Room entered my Flickchart at #1172/1431