Imagine how much chatter you’d be hearing about Dinesh D’Souza and John Sullivan’s documentary2016 if it were about George W. Bush’s America rather than Barack Obama’s.
I’m not just talking about Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, which was lauded as “potent and infuriating” byEntertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman and praised for its large “scope” and skillful “means” by the New Yorker‘s David Denby. Countless Bush’s Brains andOutfoxeds andBush Family Fortunes got wide distribution and rave reviews during the eight corpse-strewn and impoverishing years of the George W. Bush’s administration.
2016 is made at a higher level of production than any of those films. It treats its subject with much greater fairness than any of those films. It is arguably a bigger box office draw than any of them: Entertainment Weekly reports that 2016: Obama’s America is earning $6,326.50 per screen in limited release, but that’s only half the story. You can do better than that per screen and still not get a wide release. 2016, however, enjoys an excellent distribution and PR network and has opened in major media markets (The New York Times‘ review focused on the audience reaction at a screening.) Today2016: Obama’s America expands to 1,075 theaters around the country.
The film is compelling because it aims not to entertain but to educate. What they lack in the way of Michael Moore’s wit D’Souza and Sullivan (who co-wrote and co-directed) make up for through confidence in their own story.