First there was Michael Moores election-year documentary poking an indignant finger at George W. Bush.
By BRAD COOPER
The Kansas City Star
Four years later came the Citizens United film that took a scathing look at Hillary Clintons scandals.
Now playing in 1,800 theaters near you: the movie that makers claim the Obama administration doesnt want you to see 2016: Obamas America.
The new conservative film was written and directed by former Reagan administration staffer and Kings College president Dinesh DSouza. The documentary, based on books DSouza wrote and timed for release around the national political conventions, traces Obamas roots by traveling to Kenya, Indonesia and Hawaii.
Love him. Hate him. You dont know him, proclaims the poster marketing the film.
Already shadowed by controversy over its accuracy and bashed by Democrats, the movie grossed $6.5 million and finished No. 7 last weekend at the box office.
But coming on the heels of the Republican convention, some movie experts predict its positioned to move up to No. 1 at the box office this weekend.
In what is admittedly a weak period for box office, its performing quite nicely, said Keith Simanton, managing editor of IMDb, a national online database that tracks movies and television programs.
The movie examines how President Barack Obama adopted what its makers suggest were the anti-colonial views of his absentee father in pursuing leftist policies that are allegedly hurting the country.
Yet the movie, while clearly critical of Obama, isnt intended as a campaign tool to help defeat the president, said John Sullivan, one of the movies three executive producers, including one who helped make the Oscar-winning Schindlers List.
There is no advocacy for any candidate, Sullivan said. Weve got a perspective we think you should know about. Take this information. Do with it what you want.
Although its also getting a boost from conservative talk radio, the movie is still far from breaking records for a political documentary.
The highest grossing political documentary was Moores Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004. Fahrenheit, sharply critical of the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks, grossed $119.1 million.
The Obama movie so far has grossed $9.3 million, good enough for sixth place on the all-time political documentary chart, according to Box Office Mojo.
The Obama campaign, as might be expected, views the movie as a partisan shot based on a book that has been criticized by reviewers from different political perspectives.
This movie is complete fiction and rooted in lies, distortions and conspiracy theories about the president rather than facts, a campaign spokesman said.
Love the new Obama movie or hate it, dont expect it to change the minds of any undecided voters, said Bob Beatty, a political scientist at Washburn University in Topeka.
Many undecided voters dont like politics, he said, so its hard to expect them to drop $10 on a political documentary instead of The Expendables 2.
Thats why we have political ads. You dont have to leave your couch to view it, Beatty said. For a political movie, youre having to get off your couch and youre paying to see it. Youre actually opening up your wallet.
However, Beatty said a political movie might have a more indirect effect, perhaps firing up people who already favor a candidate and spurring them to get out and work for a campaign or make a donation.
Todd Tiahrt of Wichita, a Republican and a former congressman, said he hopes the movie will expose Obama.
I think its going to open a lot of peoples eyes, Tiahrt said. As the title says love him or hate him, you dont know him. And its true.
While the Obama movie has been widely panned by movie critics Rotten Tomatoes reported that only 35 percent of media critics gave the movie a thumbs up it gets unabashed support from people who already distrust the president.
Hes just not truthful, and I think the movie brought some of that out, said Melanie Dellarco of Olathe after seeing a matinee last week.
The movie got some buzz at the recently concluded Republican convention, where producer Sullivan spent time pitching the film and showing it to delegates.
Brad Dool, chairman of the Sedgwick County Republican Party, saw the movie in Tampa.
Even though Obama has said he didnt really know his father, he yearned to adopt the ways of his father, Dool said. The fact is that he has a radically different view of what is right for society than we have.
But movie critics havent been as kind.
One called it an unsubstantiated act of character assassination.
Another called it sluggish, adding that even its outrage falls flat.
And just how much of the 89-minute movie should moviegoers accept as fact?
The Associated Press recently picked it apart, questioning even the basic premise that Obamas largely absentee father could have had so much influence on his son.
While Obamas father left him at 2 and then visited him again at 10, its difficult to see how Obamas political leanings could have been so directly shaped by his father, as DSouza claims, the AP said.
But some who attended a recent matinee in Olathe werent buying the criticisms.
Neil Sickendick of Overland Park said he thought the movie helped explain whats behind the presidents policies.
I think he did a good job of laying out his reasons and provided good evidence why he believes them, Sickendick said.
The Stars Steve Kraske contributed to this report. To reach Brad Cooper, call 816-234-7724 or send email to email@example.com.