Can we all agree President Barack Obama is leaving behind a far more fractured country than he inherited eight years ago?
Heck, Frontline is even running a new special on “The Divided States of America,” even if it’s unlikely to pin the blame on Obama.
So we all could use some examples of political harmony, even if they arrive in fiction form. The following six movies are all worth your time. Even if you don’t agree with the sentiments on display, you’ll cheer the rigorous storytelling and fine performances.
Sometimes we all can get along.
Here are five films, with the final film being the best example of bipartisan entertainment.
5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
It’s a classic to its core, from Jimmy Stewart’s plainspoken performance to the Everyman themes that still resonate today.
Stewart may not conquer Washington, but his righteous fury leaves a mark all the same. Both conservatives and liberals have claimed the film as their own over the years, which means “Mr. Smith” hits some universal truths.
Any modern remake would likely shove Occupy-approved themes into the mix. Nothing doing here. Director Frank Capra’s tale is still potent today partly for avoiding partisan land mines.
No one wants to claim Reese Witherspoon’s character for their party’s side. Witherspoon stars as a driven high school student desperate to win her school’s big election.
Standing in her way is a social studies teacher (Matthew Broderick) who doesn’t think she’s the right person to “lead” the student body. So he nudges a dim-witted football player (Chris Klein) to run against her.
Some very dirty games ensue, the kind that make modern political warfare look polite by comparison.
3. Charlie Wilson’s War
Yes, Congressman Charlie Wilson was a Democrat. And the folks behind the scenes include far-left scribe Aaron Sorkin.
The movie is still robust entertainment, from the perfect cast (Tom Hanks and the great Philip Seymour Hoffman stand out) to the anti-Communist angle. Rep. Wilson fought to squash the Russians in Afghanistan during the ’80s, ruffling Beltway feathers in the process. Director Mike Nichols captures that fight, plus the congressman’s partying lifestyle, with an emphasis on entertainment, not diatribes.
What happens if you look so much like the president you could be his double? This frothy comedy doesn’t go down the mean-spirited trail. Instead, star Kevin Kline and director Ivan Reitman deliver a sweet, if lightweight, political comedy.
Liberal screenwriter Gary Ross drew inspiration from the Iran-Contra hearings, but the focus remains on the farcical situations.
1. Dr. Strangelove
“You can’t fight in here! This is the war room!” Do you need any other line to make you watch this iconic comedy another time?
Both parties understand the folly of war, and few films capture it better (or showcase a richer cast). Peter Sellers is a hoot in multiple roles, but there’s so much black humor scattered about it’s hard to point to any single reason why the comedy still crackles today.
Who hasn’t marveled at the sight of Slim Pickens riding a nuclear missile like a bucking bronco?
What’s revealed, ultimately, is our hubris when it comes to the fate of the world. It’s a humbling message we all should heed.