Independent Lens (2007)


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Movie Info

Using an underdog congressional bid as a springboard, director Frank Popper explores the dangers of political dynasties in this documentary that aired as part of PBS's Independent Lens series. In 2004, 29-year-old political unknown Jeff Smith decided to make a run for an open congressional seat in Missouri, and soon found himself facing off against a political Goliath. With only a passionate grassroots group of volunteers behind him, Smith's candidacy serves as a true test of the efficacy of the little guy in modern American politics.

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Critic Reviews for Independent Lens

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (8)

Mr. Smith captures ground-level political machinations in an utterly fascinating way. The question raised by the title makes for an interesting, if possibly disheartening, debate.

Feb 1, 2007 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

For all its rah-rah David-vs.-Goliath populism, Can Mr. Smith understands that even an uncorrupted outsider like Smith must master the art of campaign gamesmanship to be successful.

Feb 1, 2007

Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore? is an amusing case study in youthful enthusiasm for the electoral process, but this modest documentary skips the weighty issues posed by its namesake, the Frank Capra 1939 drama.

Dec 22, 2006 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

[Director Frank] Popper sticks close to the fierce campaigner and his young, mostly inexperienced staffers, capturing all the energy, idealism, dour humor, and unreasoning hope of a Cinderella candidacy.

Dec 22, 2006 | Full Review…

The movie is breezy, fun and keeps comin' at ya. Politics needs more of this and less of what went on in Ohio.

Dec 21, 2006 | Rating: 2.5/4

A rousing, sometimes funny, frequently depressing documentary.

Nov 3, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Independent Lens


Just like its subject, not everything goes right all the time for Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore, but the film is ultimately a fascinating, eye-opening portrait of an everyman's grab for a US Congressional seat.

Isaac H
Isaac H

Super Reviewer

An underfunded documentary about how sponsership really takes a large hand in politics.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


[font=Century Gothic]"Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?" is a perceptive documentary about Jeff Smith, a 29-year old professor, community activist and neophyte politician who is running for Congress in Missouri's Third District comprising St. Louis and environs. There are nine other Democrats running in the primary with the odds on favorite being Russ Carnahan, if only because he is a scion of a Missouri political dynasty. To combat this, Smith heads a valiant campaign staffed with non-professionals and hard working volunteers.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]What the film is generally concerned with is the status quo as personified by political dynasties. And the best way to combat that is good old fashioned shoe leather, for which there is no substitute. The movie refutes the electability myth which is supporting a candidate only because he can win, not because he is the best candidate. [/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer


A heartening look into the grassroots campaign trail, and dynastic and unbreakable incumbency politics in the United States. Can actual people prevail over polls and politics?

Daniel Hetteix
Daniel Hetteix

Super Reviewer

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