An upstart thriller about a young man’s initiation into politics and life (in that order of importance), Choose Connor is not coincidentally getting a theatrical release during an election that will likely mark an old man’s exit from both politics and life. But far from addressing any relevant issues surrounding our current situation, writer-director Luke Eberl’s scenario instead opts for a more routine examination of the corruptions of both civic duty and adulthood in general. Owen (mop-topped Alex D. Linz) begins the film as a gawky 15-year-old Youth in Government-type, the sort of boy who has more trophies and certificates than friends. He meets Senate hopeful Lawrence Connor (Steven Weber) and his sullen twink nephew Caleb (Escher Holloway), and before you know it, the three are exploiting their connections for personal gain. Uptight Owen befriends Caleb to get his foot in Connor’s campaign office door. Connor invites Owen to join his team as a youth campaign spokesman and spout off election-year rhetoric because apparently it sounds less smarmy and rehearsed when it comes from the mouth of babes. But as it turns out (spoiler alert!), Connor has other uses for underage boys, and it becomes increasingly clear that Caleb is also interested in Owen because he’d just plain rather make out with a boy who isn’t one in a long string of 55-year-old campaign financiers. Choose Connor starts out as a potentially compelling allegory for the infantilization of modern, head-patting politics. (As Roger Ebert noted in a column slamming Sarah Palin, John McCain’s selection of the Alaskan governor as a running mate only proves that, in this American Idol nation, too many of us prefer to vote for the candidate that makes us feel secure in our own personal superiority rather than the person who just might be a little bit smarter than you.) But instead of examining this theme, Eberl (who was himself just barely old enough to vote when he wrote this script) overshoots the goal and tries to tackle the blackened heart of corruption itself. To paraphrase Peggy Noonan, Choose Connor mires itself in far-fetched bullshit narrative. That said, the film does contain one moment of unintended, prescient hilarity that aligns it with this moment in pop-culture history. When campaign managers are drilling Owen about how to field questions from reporters, they assure that he should expect to field mostly softball pitches. But if he does get a legitimate, hard-hitting query about a topic he would obviously have no ability to answer, they suggest he respond: “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.” Owen, meet Katie Couric.
- Strand Releasing
- 109 min
- Luke Eberl
- Luke Eberl
- Steven Weber, Alex D. Linz, Escher Holloway, John Rubinstein, Michael Welch, Chris Marquette, Erick Avari, Diane Delano
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