Review: Al Franken: God Spoke
Al Franken is a funny man. As a writer and performer on Saturday Night Live for many years, he knows how to put an audience into stitches with his dead on impressions and characters. But in the last few years, the funny guy has transformed into the guy with the political conscience, taking his comic timing and well placed zingers into the political commentary arena. The new documentary, Al Franken: God Spoke follows this transformation from the first days of Franken's contribution to the liberal radio channel, Air America through to the crushing defeat of the Democrats in the 2004 election. This is a movie that shows explicitly what happens when someone who's spent most of his career entertaining people decides to use his access to the public to do more.
I suspect however, that most of the people who'd be buying a ticket to see this movie will be in the "preaching to the choir" section of the political spectrum. They're probably also the folks who listen to Air America in the first place, not those who chuckle gleefully when the Drudge Report says that AA is about to declare bankruptcy. Sadly, this seems to be the whole problem with the left in America these days, they spend a lot of time listening to what the right says and thoughtfully trying to refute it, while the right just continues on blithely with its own agenda. In the documentary, Franken spends a lot of time taking well aimed and witty pot shots at Conservative mouth pieces like Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter, but where does that get him? Sure, my New York media elite audience thought the movie was funny but is Franken converting any actual undecided hearts and minds?
Political agendas aside, God Spoke is a well made documentary, though you'd hardly expect any less from the team involved. Directors Chris Hegedus and Nick Doob along with producer D.A. Pennebaker have made some really excellent non fiction films in the past, like The War Room and Startup.com. I just hope that their track record of capturing American zeitgeist moments with their cameras transfers that level of importance to Franken's quest. As the film ends, it seems that he has intentions to move out of show business and into elected politics. Might I suggest a Franken/Jon Stewart ticket for maximum pop culture effectiveness?