Grassroots (2012) - Rotten Tomatoes

Grassroots (2012)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

A short-tempered, unemployed music critic who likes to dress as a polar bear thinks he can harness the power of the people to ride the monorail to political victory in Seattle. And he's right. Almost. It's before Twitter, before the flash mob, before Obama. It's 2001, and political unknown Grant Cogswell decides he must take down Seattle City Councilman Richard McIver. Grant has only one dream, but it's a big one: an elegant monorail gliding silently above the city's wet streets. Grassroots is a character-driven comedy about the power of the people and the virtues of standing up for what you believe in. Against all odds. -- (C) Samuel Goldwynmore
Rating: R (for pervasive language and brief drug use)
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Stephen Gyllenhaal, Justin B. Rhodes
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 2, 2012
Box Office: $6.5k
Samuel Goldwyn Films - Official Site

Watch it now


Joel David Moore
as Grant Cogswell
Jason Biggs
as Phil Campbell
Lauren Ambrose
as Emily Bowen
Todd Stashwick
as Nick Ricochet
Emily Bergl
as Theresa Glendon
Sean Nelson
as Musician
Lance Rosen
as ACLU Lawyer #1
Sarah Dunne
as ACLU Lawyer #2
Connie Nartonis Thom...
as Connie Thompson
Sarah Harlett
as Receptionist
Claire Vardiel
as Augusta D'Amico
Branden Romans
as Genzlinger
Russell Hodgkinson
as Pernell Alden
Imogen Love
as First Questioner
Garr Godfrey
as Second Questioner
Barbara Deering
as Moderator
Talena Bennett
as Reporter #1
Erin Mayovsky
as Reporter #2
Todd Licea
as Reporter #3
John Misner
as Reporter #4
John Ulman
as Agent Goecker
Anthony Fuller
as Agent Sikora
Steve Pool
as NY News Reporter
Rodney Sherwood
as Tate Austin
Brent Stiefel
as Campaign Volunteer
Michael Huffington
as Cleve Stockmeyer
Mt. St. Helens Vietn...
as Comet House Band
Joel Moore
as Grant Cogswell
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Grassroots

Critic Reviews for Grassroots

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (9)

An enjoyable, fitfully engaging but ever-so-slightly forgettable minor-key political comedy.

Full Review… | November 6, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

Grassroots is a movie where bad ideas, because they're the ones championed by the "correct" side, are king. It never acknowledges that sometimes idealism is just another kind of manipulation.

Full Review… | July 19, 2012
Top Critic

At first glance, "Grassroots" doesn't seem like much of an idea for a movie. Nor at second, third or fourth glance.

Full Review… | July 13, 2012
New York Post
Top Critic

Although it only glosses the mechanics of local politics, it exudes an endearingly scruffy charm.

Full Review… | July 12, 2012
New York Times
Top Critic

This is one film as misguided as the business-as-usual subject it aims to critique.

Full Review… | July 10, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

Grassroots disingenuously has it both ways, reducing politics first to a David-versus-Goliath adventure, and then to an everyone-is-cool bowl of mush.

Full Review… | July 10, 2012
Village Voice
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Grassroots

Gyllenhaal's film is based on the true story of Grant Cogswell, an out of work music critic who ran for city council in Seattle's 2001 campaign, his ticket a promise to extend the city's monorail in an attempt to make the city more accessible for it's working classes. As portrayed by Moore, he's an unlikable but enthusiastic presence with limited social skills. Running his anarchic campaign is Biggs, an impressive performance as a journalist recently fired from The Stranger for being too political. For the most part the film relies on the usual cliches of the campaign trail with our protagonists setting out with the best intentions but resorting to more and more dirty tricks as their success grows. Cogswell's incumbent opponent is a conservative African-American with ties to big business and the issue of liberal hypocrisy is raised in a way we rarely see with many white liberals preferring to vote for a right-wing black politician than the left-wing Cogswell who best represents their views.
The Movie Waffler

Super Reviewer

Grant Cogswell is probably the only likable character in this movie.I think the story at heart gets lost among all the little side stories that end up devouring the film.

Danielle K.
Danielle Kelly

An enjoyable, albeit paint-by-numbers, film that effectively triumphs idealism and activism, while also exposing its potential flaws. Although writer-director Stephen Gyllenhaal turns the true story of political activists and grassroots politicians Grant Cogswell and Phil Campbell into an oddball comedy-drama that champions the underdog and the little guy. The film has a lot of heart, but by the end, it's pretty forgettable.

Both Jason Biggs and Joel David Moore are perfectly cast, and their chemistry together is really what makes this film work. Biggs who is incredibly likeable and sympathetic as the best friend to an eccentric, often abrasive idealist played by Moore, is the emotional center of the film. As we watch him begin to believe in and be inspired by his friend and eventually begin to question if he's wasting his time, we take every twist and turn with him.

The ensemble cast in the film keeps things interesting in the slower parts of the film. Cedric the Entertainer gives a remarkably reserved performance as the vilified incumbent who Cogswell is determined to take down. The comedian never goes for laughs, but actually is charming enough to make you believe why the character has been elected so many times. Lauren Ambrose, one of my favorite actresses, gives another great performance as the Campbell's girlfriend.

Unfortunately for Gyllenhaal and crew, Grassroots isn't anything new or that entirely special. It's an enjoyable and emotional film that makes you believe in the underdog, and in that sense the film is a solid film. Ultimately it's forgettable and predictable, but definitely worth a watch, if just to see Jason Biggs in an enjoyable film.

For more movie reviews visit:

Grassroots Quotes

Phil Campbell: What happens if we do win?
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
Grant Cogswell: You are going to do it with me. It's the reason you got fired!
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Grassroots on our Movie forum!