Quantcast

Film review: Frankly, Franken comes off poorly

Published: Friday, Oct. 20 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

Talk-show host Al Franken has a few funny moments — but not many — in "God Spoke."

Balcony Releasing

Enlarge photo»

AL FRANKEN: GOD SPOKE — ** — Documentary profile of radio host Al Franken; not rated, probable R (profanity, vulgarity, brief drugs, ethnic slurs, violence).

In "Al Franken: God Spoke," the liberal radio talk-show host describes his style of verbal combat as similar to jujitsu — he uses others' words against them.

Ironically, the documentary uses Franken's own words against him.

With his nearly nonstop, self-congratulatory monologues and his seemingly insincere attitude, he comes off as every bit as much an insufferable blowhard as his conservative counterparts.

To say "God Spoke" is not a flattering portrait of its subject is putting it mildly.

In the film, documentarians Nick Doob and Chris Hegedus look at how Franken — a former "Saturday Night Live" cast member and writer — became a political pundit.

Much of that has to do with his friendship with the late Minnesota politician Paul Wellstone, as well as the success of Franken's two books, "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" and "Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them)." All of which led to his starting "Air America Radio," a syndicated program in which he tries to combat claims of the Fox News Channel and other conservative commentators Franken attacks for not telling the whole truth on a variety of touchy subjects.

Perhaps the most telling moment in the movie comes when Franken invites fellow radio personality Sean Hannity to appear on one of his shows, and then stands by as outspoken actress Janeane Garofalo shouts Hannity down. So much for Franken's claims to be fair and balanced.

There are a few amusing moments captured by Doob and Hegedus, such as the continual sniping between Franken and an increasingly petulant Bill O'Reilly.

"Al Franken: God Spoke" is not rated but would probably receive an R for strong sexual language (including profanity, slang terms and other suggestive talk), brief drug references, use of ethnic slurs and brief snippets of violence (newsreel war footage). Running time: 90 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com