"2012: OBAMA'S AMERICA" — ★★ — political documentary that looks at a possible second term for President Barack Obama; PG (adult themes); in general release
According to weekend box office estimates, Dinesh D'Souza's slickly packaged political documentary "2016: Obama's America," released to coincide with the Republican convention, was making a relatively strong showing alongside "The Expendables 2" and "Premium Rush."
Preaching to the choir, and quoting from the choir — D'Souza's interviewees include conservative think-tankers, commentators and academics — the film asks the question "If Obama wins a second term, where will we be in 2016?" then posits some disturbing answers. Disturbing, but dubious.
D'Souza, stars in, narrates and conducts the interviews (some via cellphone) in "2016," which expands on the controversial premise of his book, "The Roots of Obama's Rage," and a 2010 Forbes article, "How Obama Thinks."
Basically, D'Souza — who opens with a genial checklist of similarities between himself and the president (age, mixed-race heritage, Ivy League education) — suggests that Obama is running the country based on the radical geopolitical tenets laid down by his Kenyan father in the 1960s, a father Obama hardly knew.
Obama "candidly" admitting he is living out his father's dream is a reference, of course, to the president's bestselling memoir, "Dreams from My Father," excerpts of which are read in the film, by D'Souza or by Obama himself, from the CD edition.
In a sit-down with NYU psychologist Paul Vitz, D'Souza hears the professor's thoughts on absent fathers and how they can shape the psyche and thinking of their sons.
He goes from there to paint a picture of a world where the nations of the Middle East, including Libya, Syria and Iran, band into "the United States of Islam," threatening the security of the United States and the world.
The film, codirected by D'Souza and John Sullivan (who produced Ben Stein's 2008 doc about creationism), deploys an animated graphic similar to the creeping-Communism maps of Southeast Asia that were used to justify the war in Vietnam.
Obama, it is implied, is deliberately making America more vulnerable to attack from Muslim extremists. No mention is made of the fact that it was under Obama's watch that Osama bin Laden was killed.
D'Souza travels to Indonesia, where Obama lived with his mother as a boy (and where D'Souza sits at a street cafe, reading Obama's book), and to Nairobi, where he unsuccessfully seeks out an interview with Sarah Obama, the president's aunt, but does score a park-bench chat with George Obama, his half-brother. The filmmaker tries to elicit rage from the semi-sibling, who appears to live in a shantytown setting, about Barack Obama not doing more to take care of him.
The documentary isn't all theory and conjecture.
An interview with David M. Walker, the U.S. comptroller general from 1998 to 2008, presents a sobering picture of the national debt and what it might portend for our future.
Author and commentator Shelby Steele makes some provocative, pointed observations about the role race played in Obama's election.
And footage of a town hall-style meeting in which the president fumbles — and fumbles and fumbles — in his attempt to explain the economic benefits of his Affordable Care Act should warm the hearts of Obamacare foes.
But even the staunchest anti-Obama factions should be wary of the falacious content flying around in D'Souza's film.
"2016: OBAMA'S AMERICA" is rated PG for adult themes; running time 89 minutes.