Movie review: ‘America’ recycles right-wing talking points

First Published      Last Updated Jul 03 2014 02:50 pm

Dinesh D'Souza starts his political polemic "America," subtitled "Imagine the World Without Her," with an intriguing question: What if a sniper had shot Gen. Washington in battle, thus causing the fledgling United States to lose the Revolutionary War?

Alas, the conservative author and confessed felon abandons that fascinating premise, retreating to his well-worn territory of bashing liberals as America-hating cretins who would surrender the nation to American Indians, Mexicans, the descendants of slaves, and the victims of "imperialism" and capitalism.

In setting up his straw men to knock down, D'Souza trots out familiar targets such as historian Howard Zinn and community organizer Saul Alinsky, who are conveniently dead and unable to defend themselves. This is all prologue for the movie, directed by D'Souza and John Sullivan ("Expelled"), to attack D'Souza's favorite villain, President Barack Obama — but D'Souza starts to pivot toward Hillary Clinton, Obama's possible 2016 successor.

The historical re-enactments are handsomely mounted, but the ways D'Souza appropriates famous figures and misreads history (slavery wasn't so bad, because all civilizations did it, he argues at one point) are ludicrous.

The real question for "America" is why like-minded viewers would pay money to hear the same conspiracy theories Fox News spews for free.

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Opens Wednesday, July 2, at area theaters; rated PG-13 for violent images; 105 minutes.