'A Convenient Truth': Film Review

This one-joke satire quickly runs out of gas

Dominick Bagnato's mockumentary concerns a congressman's unique solution to the energy crisis.

A California congressman proposes a novel solution to such wide-ranging problems as foreign energy dependence, global warming, illegal immigration, unemployment and even obesity. It's to harness the state's thousands of undocumented workers to stationary bicycles so they can generate loads of cheap and clean electricity.

That's the satirical premise of Dominick Bagnato's satirical mockumentary whose title is all too reminiscent of a more serious-minded effort featuring a certain former vice president. Unfortunately, A Convenient Truth doesn’t manage to sustain its comic premise over the course of even its admittedly brief feature-length running time. The thin joke would seem more appropriate fodder for a brief sketch towards the end of a Saturday Night Live episode when time needs to be filled.

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Delivering an admirably committed straight-faced comic performance, Alan Berman plays the central role of Coleman Burleson, the politico/entrepreneur who comes up with the innovative scheme to be fulfilled by his own Burleson Laboratories.  

"Let's show that Mexicans can be more reliable than the wind!" he exclaims by way of a slogan.

Featuring fake political ads, "commentary" by experts including a cardiologist who testifies to the plan's health benefits, and a profile of one corpulent youth (named Corpolant, in an example of the simplistic humor) who benefits from the weight-reducing effects of endlessly cycling in place, the film runs its less than comically scintillating conceit into the ground more heavily than the panting cyclists it depicts.

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We're also introduced to such characters as the congressman's long-suffering wife, a lawyer, and two grown daughters, none of whom have anything particularly amusing to say.

The sort of shoestring-budgeted vanity project now made too easily possible by crowdfunding, A Convenient Truth is to be commended for at least attempting that rarest of commodities, big-screen political satire. But good intentions only go so far.

Production; Living Daylights Pictures
Cast: Alan Berman, Kevin Hauver, Elise Rovinsky, Gilli Messer, Jillian Leigh, Nick Magliocco
Director/screenwriter: Dominick Bagnato
Producers: Charlie Pinto, Patrick Steward, Beth Renfro
Director of photography: Adam Orellana
Editor: Charlie Pinto
Composer: Nick Bailey

No rating, 82 minutes

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