Primary Colors (1998)
February 10, 2019 3:46 AM - Subscribe

Based on the initially anonymous blockbuster 1996 account of Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign in 1992, the film version continues the novel's weak à clef distance, casting a thinly disguised John Travolta as Bill and Emma Thompson as Hillary as they navigate the ethically trying road to the White House.

[Trailer] [IMDB] [Wikipedia] [Rotten Tomatoes] [TV Tropes]
some pro
A modern immorality tale with a keen, observant edge, Primary Colors can hardly help but fascinate as an exceedingly rare example of a film à clef. Variety

Nothing is tied up neatly in Primary Colors. It’s just as hard to make a final call on Stanton as it is on Clinton. Maybe that’s why this provocative film touches a nerve. It’s so funny it hurts. Rolling Stone
some con
Mr. Nichols's satirical talents are less evident here than his way with broader shtick (there's a very funny bit from Rob Reiner as a radio talk show host), and the film seldom displays much in the way of directorial hallmarks. Only occasionally does it strike sharply at an essential target, a taste for the trivial that is more damning than any Stanton-esque foibles. The New York Times

Primary Colors is not a disaster, just an ambitious disappointment whose time has passed. It’s dull, but it could have been worse. At least it’s not a movie about Al Gore. Observer
miscellany
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Dang, where is Joke Line these days? Appears to be puttering in the gardens of Time Magazine and...not on Twitter at all?

It's probably time I tackled this, Bulworth, and Bob Roberts.
posted by rhizome at 11:01 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


There was such a huge tumult about unmasking Anonymous. I can only imagine what it would be like in the day of Twitter.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:31 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


My AP Govt teacher was a big fan of this movie. He never showed it in class though.

I understand why the Clintons and their die-hard supporters don't like this movie, but it did a better job of making Hillary likeable and sympathetic than Hillary or her campaign or Beyonce.
posted by riruro at 6:43 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


This movie has saved me from throwing a cell phone into the woods out of frustration so many times, recalling that one scene has been one of the most therapeutic of any film ever!
posted by sammyo at 3:25 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Man, I bet Krispy Kreme was a deep reference when this came out. None of the Clintonesque aspects were news or even added to the story, but this plot has been woven into American culture for 25 years. I suppose that's what the "miscellany" links above illustrate.

Kathy Bates owns this movie! She had a similar role in Late Shift, but I guess maybe Fried Green Tomatoes also presages this? Larry Hagman is also too perfect, and how funny was it seeing Travolta playing a bad dancer for a change?

I'm glad I've seen this now.
posted by rhizome at 12:39 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


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