Review: Al Franken: God Spoke

Perhaps the man could stand to learn from the Last Testament and fight fire with fire.

Al Franken: God Spoke
Photo: Balcony Releasing

First a word on the title of this documentary tribute to Al Franken’s bourgeoning political career. In the spirit of George W. Bush, who has publicly admitted that God told him to end tyranny in Iraq, Franken also claims to have received word from a higher power advising him to “answer the fuckheads” spreading lies from the right side of our country’s political divide. Franken says, “What I do is jujitsu. They say something ridiculous and I subject them to scorn and ridicule.” This is the film’s only sketch-comedy bit—a flimsy one at that—used to justify the ethos of a documentary that feels misshapen, not unlike Franken’s political ambitions. Al Franken: God Spoke doesn’t work as a film but it is illustrative, corroborative even, of the political left’s politeness when it comes to fighting right-wing monsters like Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly. Franken is, quite simply, too nice. He has humor and truth on his side but very little muscle to counter the lies snakes like Rush Limbaugh are pushing everyday onto their audience, yet the film doesn’t concern Franken’s attempts to rouse support for his campaign against the deceit of the country’s right wing so much as it lazily shuffles clips from the premiere of his Air America radio program with depressing footage leading up to Bush’s re-election, surely our worst collective nightmare since 9/11. A better, less passé film about Franken’s wife Franni forming the backbone of her husband’s career lies dormant here, as does the man’s rebel spirit. Perhaps the man could stand to learn from the Last Testament and fight fire with fire.

 Cast: Al Franken, Franni Franken, Katherine Lanpher, Billy Kimball, Ben Wikler, Tim Bradley, Ayo Griffin, Bob Mackey, Jim Norton, Chris Rosen, Kate Sullivan, Gabrielle Zuckerman, Bill Bennett, Neal Boortz, George W. Bush, Tucker Carlson, Hillary Clinton, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly  Director: Nick Doob, Chris Hegedus  Distributor: Balcony Releasing  Running Time: 90 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2006  Buy: Video

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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