Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (20)
| Top Critics (11)
| Fresh (8)
| Rotten (12)
The film's basic premise -- why can't politics be a reasonable, logical enterprise (like, say, making an indie documentary?) -- is at odds with the realities not just of the American political process but also human nature.
It jumps around from California to Texas to Iowa to Louisiana and back, quite literally all over the map, with lots of numbingly repetitive cartographic visuals.
An illustrated civics lesson that strains to make its complicated, shadowy subject -- electoral redistricting -- a political hot topic.
Maybe the whole topic is just too esoteric to warrant feature-length dissection without a craftier firebrand like Michael Moore at the helm.
While the film adopts a sometimes jaunty tone, the fact is that gerrymandering is bad news, assuming you believe that elections should mean something.
If we stipulate that gerrymandering is a pox on the American political process, do we have to sit through a documentary that makes that case in the most earnest, predictable way possible?
Reichert has to come up with some way to draw us in, and does so, for the most part, with some very entertaining, shocking and dastardly tales of gerrymandering to the extreme
The film's final statement is literally, "end gerrymandering,' which is hardly non-partisan itself.
Reichert for the most part succeeds with a subject that's hard to get excited about.
Works fine as civics instruction but it won't move the needle against this decidedly anti-democratic process.
An important political subject gets sincere but slick treatment
unable to clearly and succinctly identify the problem it has wrapped its eighty-odd minutes of thinly-developed footage around
"Gerrymandering" is an uneven documentary look into the eponymous practice of unfairly redistricting in order to favor one political party over another, that is exacerbated by one party simply giving up and not running any candidates in that district anymore. Fortunately, there is an innovative way to combat this. In 2010, Californians get to vote on Prop 11 which proposes taking redistricting out of the politicians' hands and putting it in the hands of ordinary citizens. As then Governor Schwarzenegger eloquently put it, it takes the conflict of interest out of the whole equation.(Yeah, I was shocked, too.)
The rest of the documentary does not work nearly as well, even though showing the shape of a representative's district when he is being interviewed is a very nice tough. Outside of wisely having Lani Guinier testify, most of the evidence the documentary employs is on the anecdotal side when instead it should have used a clear timeline in showing how gerrymandering has been used to disenfranchise minorities over the years.(The bit about Martha's Vineyard threatening to secede from Massachusetts is hilarious, if untintentionally so.) And like most movies, "Gerrymandering" could have definitely used more armadillo racing.
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