Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
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 Goldwyn … More
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as Grant Cogswell
as Richard McIver
as Phil Campbell
as Emily Bowen
as Jim Tripp
as Nick Ricochet
as Theresa Glendon
as ACLU Lawyer #1
as ACLU Lawyer #2
as Connie Thompson
as Augusta D'Amico
as Pernell Alden
as First Questioner
as Second Questioner
as Reporter #1
as Reporter #2
as Reporter #3
as Reporter #4
as Agent Goecker
as Agent Sikora
as NY News Reporter
as Tate Austin
as Campaign Volunteer
as Cleve Stockmeyer
as Comet House Band
as Grant Cogswell
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Critic Reviews for Grassroots
An enjoyable, fitfully engaging but ever-so-slightly forgettable minor-key political comedy.
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.
At first glance, "Grassroots" doesn't seem like much of an idea for a movie. Nor at second, third or fourth glance.
Although it only glosses the mechanics of local politics, it exudes an endearingly scruffy charm.
This is one film as misguided as the business-as-usual subject it aims to critique.
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.
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.
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