An Unreasonable Man

Critics Consensus

A compelling documentary that humanizes the controversial, polarizing politician.



Total Count: 60


Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,510
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Movie Info

The life and career of one of America's most tenacious consumer advocates and political activists is brought to the screen in this richly detailed documentary. Born in a small town in Connecticut, Ralph Nader was raised to believe the words of his father that "you can fight city hall," and Nader made a nationwide reputation for his willingness to take on the wealthy and powerful. After receiving a degree from Harvard Law School, Nader first became a household name in 1965 with his book Unsafe at Any Speed, in which he detailed the auto industry's willingness to sacrifice safety in the name of greater profits. The book so outraged General Motors that they hired investigators to dig up dirt on Nader and make trouble for him; the plan backfired when Nader sued for invasion of privacy and walked away with a 425,000-dollar settlement that he used to set up an activist group to investigate both public servants and private commerce and how they live up to their responsibilities. However, Nader's long career as a incorruptible watchdog was tarnished in 2004 when Nader ran for president in a campaign that attracted a great deal of attention for a third party candidate -- and was blamed by many Democrats for drawing enough votes away from Al Gore to allow George W. Bush to walk away with an extremely narrow victory. An Unreasonable Man was directed by Henriette Mantel and Stephen Skrovan, the former of whom worked as a member of Nader's staff in the '70s.

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Critic Reviews for An Unreasonable Man

All Critics (60) | Top Critics (27)

  • This fascinating documentary examines the issues raised by Nader's runs for the presidency...that shone a powerful light into our grubby political shadows, and also played a part...that twice put George W. Bush into the White House.

    May 2, 2007 | Full Review…
  • It can't help but remind us that the man Nader prevented from becoming president has since been more instrumental in the war on environmental pollution than any other public figure. Irony abounds.

    Apr 20, 2007 | Rating: 3/4
  • You may walk away from it still wondering why Nader persisted in running for president in 2004 after being repeatedly begged not to. But, whether or not you admire the decision, the film forces you to admire the determination with which Nader made it.

    Apr 7, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • This documentary starts out as a fascinating profile of consumer advocate Ralph Nader, but it ends up getting derailed by a political discussion marked by an abundance of whining.

    Mar 29, 2007 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The first half of the movie is an absorbing study of this part of Nader's public life, and then it switches -- as he did -- to politics, where the results for both him and the picture are less cheerful.

    Mar 16, 2007 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • An Unreasonable Man pays true homage to a man of vehemently held ideas by forcing us to engage our brains at the same high level of consciousness.

    Mar 16, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for An Unreasonable Man

  • Nov 27, 2011
    This documentary tells the story of Ralph Nader's life in the run up to the 2000 Presidential election. This film is bookended by liberals, who are incensed at Nader, talking about how he ruined the country and tarnished his legacy. Then, the film details his legacy in length, highlighting <i>Unsafe at any Speed</i> and the several other initiatives Nader championed as a consumer advocate. But it eventually returns to a debate about Nader's decision to run in Florida, contrasting liberals' objections with Nader's defenses. I found myself liking Nader by the end of the film and dismissing his detractors. Nader's tenacity and moral commitment are things I admire, and the film does too. Overall, I think <i>An Unreasonable Man</i> is worth watching because there are reasons to respect this man no matter what his influence on American politics has been.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 30, 2008
    This is must see viewing for every human being that thinks he/she is in the know and for every American that considers himself/herself patriotic. This is "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" meets Fox Mulder, but a true story, and without the happy ending. In a time in this country when we need someone with integrity, honesty, perseverance, and diligence, one needs to look no further than the decades of unrewarded selfless acts of this man. Regardless of your political viewpoints, it is hard to argue that if any politician had an ounce of this man's fortitude, we would all be better off. Once in a while a documentary comes along that changes the way I view the world and moves me to act upon it. This is one of those movies.
    Richard F Super Reviewer
  • Feb 13, 2007
    The directors really know their stuff, and focus on keeping everything from Nader's perspective. Word has it from the directors that Nader enjoys the movie himself, but mostly spent his screening thinking about other ways of helping society. I'm sure most intelligent people will do the same during the course of this picture. Less Nader biography, more "One Man Can Make A Difference" moral.
    Daniel H Super Reviewer
  • Feb 04, 2007
    [font=Century Gothic]"An Unreasonable Man" is an enlightening documentary about consumer advocate Ralph Nader, starting with his childhood in Connecticut, through his landmark case against the Big 3 automakers, writing "Unsafe at Any Speed", promoting safety and founding numerous public interest groups. Throughout Nader's career, his relationship with Democratic Presidents is cordial starting with Lyndon Johnson and is optimistic when Jimmy Carter is elected, followed by the disappointment when reality sets in. That is followed by the eventual corporatization of the Democratic party through the rise of the Political Action Committees. Even when dicussing his work, the main focus is on Nader's controversial run for the Presidency in 2000. [/font][font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]It is clear that Nader presented a valid alternative to a right-wing party and a week-kneed corporate party in 2000. Through testimony from both supporters and detractors, the documentary makes an excellent case that Nader should not be held as the scapegoat for the results of the 2000 election, as there were many factors involved.(The 2000 Florida shenanigans are barely mentioned.) And please remember that all candidates have to earn their votes.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]The documentary seeks to redeem Nader's reputation but he strikes me as somebody without an ego, whose job and life it is to fight the good fight, in saving lives. In short, he does not care about his legacy.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]Note: I did vote for Ralph Nader in both 1996 and 2000. [/font]
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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