'2016: Obama's America': What the Critics Are Saying
THR’s Stephen Farber wrote the film “really goes off the rails” when it tries to connect the president’s past with a supposed sinister agenda.
2016: Obama’s America shocked box office observers with its strong Friday performance, in which it topped all other new films.
Its $2.2 million haul helped make the anti-Barack Obama movie the top grossing documentary of the year (not counting nature films), and could propel it to a $6 million weekend cume.
In the film, co-director and onscreen narrator Dinesh D’Souza imagines what the U.S. would be like, should Obama win a second term—and what he imagines isn’t pretty.
Here is a sampling of what the critics had to say about D'Souza's film.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Farber praised the film’s “fairly measured” look at Obama’s personal life and early history, however he found the film “really goes off the rails” when it moves from the biographical to the speculative.
“We hear about 'Obama’s Chicago pal' Bill Ayers, though D’Souza admits that Obama met Ayers in 1995, 25 years after Ayers’ involvement with the Weather Underground,” Farber wrote. “D’Souza also points out that Obama took a class at Columbia taught by Edward Said, the renowned pro-Palestinian scholar. Do any of these marginal associations prove that Obama aims to introduce socialism to America and undermine the state of Israel?”
Washington Post critic Michael O’Sullivan panned the documentary as “a slick infomercial," writing: “D'Souza’s one-sided argument ultimately stoops to fear-mongering of the worst kind, stating in no uncertain terms that, if the president is reelected, the world four years from now will be darkened by the clouds of economic collapse, World War III (thanks to the wholesale renunciation of our nuclear superiority) and a terrifyingly ascendant new ‘United States of Islam’ in the Middle East. These assertions are accompanied by footage of actual dark clouds and horror-movie music.”
New York Times reviewer Andy Webster noted that while plenty of Obama-haters were consulted for the film, “Not interviewed by the filmmakers are Obama’s political supporters, but this isn’t that kind of documentary.”
Slate reviewer David Weigel found the premise of the film, in which D’Souza is a crusader for the truth, rather disingenuous. “D’Souza is sold to us as a smart, patriotic innocent abroad, who just wants to piece a mystery together. Almost every clue fits the puzzle.”
He goes on to note that the co-director leaves out key details to make things look worse than they are. "This is a movie, sure, and you can’t lard it up with every little detail, but D’Souza’s question-begging and omissions lead him to oversell what he’s got."