'Mooch': Film Review

Aren't his 15 minutes up yet?

Andrew J. Muscato's years-in-the-making documentary profiles the Trump associate who became the shortest-lived White House communications director in history.

Anthony Scaramucci's fame seems to be dragging on long past its sell-by date. Case in point: Andrew J. Muscato's documentary about the short-lived White House communications director. The filmmaker began the project four years ago, long before his subject achieved national notoriety by blundering his way in and out of the Trump administration in record time. The unexpected turn of events was undeniably lucky for Muscato, but less so for anyone curious enough to get suckered into watching the utterly superfluous Mooch.

Scaramucci somehow managed to parlay SkyBridge Capital, the investment firm he founded and co-managed, into a widely recognized brand. He became a regular fixture on television shows about Wall Street and even played himself in a cameo in Oliver Stone's 2010 sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. In the documentary, Stone comments about Scaramucci, "I respect him. He seems like a man of the streets who made his way." (Unfortunately, Stone's observations have become less credible in recent years thanks to the filmmaker's kissy-face interviews with such figures as Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin.)

Scaramucci became known nationally after a contentious exchange with President Barack Obama during a televised town hall event. He was mimicked by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, who delivered the sort of heavily accented mockery that comedians have since taken the ball and run with.

The film reminds us that Scaramucci didn't board the Trump gravy train early on. He first supported Scott Walker, who became one of the first candidates to drop out of the race, and then Scaramucci shifted his focus to Jeb Bush. "The Mooch is not a policy wonk," a journalist acidly points out.

But he quickly allied himself with the Donald after Trump became the GOP nominee, becoming a ubiquitous figure on cable news shows thanks to his charisma and (at least compared to so many other Trump surrogates) seeming rationality. Under the impression that he was going to have a prominent role in the administration, he arranged to sell his firm to a Chinese company, only to see the job offer fall through. But Scaramucci truly stepped into Trump's good graces when he threatened to sue CNN over a story mistakenly reporting that he was being investigated and actually managed to secure both a retraction and apology.

That victory over one of Trump's biggest targets provides the film its most dramatic episode, namely Scaramucci's 11-day tenure that ended shortly after the publication of his profanity-laden interview with Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker. The documentary includes audio excerpts from the conversation that make clear how the supposedly media-savvy Scaramucci fell victim to his egotism.

Scaramucci's saving grace is that he has a sense of humor about himself, or at least effectively pretends to have one, that is on ample display throughout the doc. He also displays excellent survival instincts; rather than retreat into ignominious isolation after his public humiliation, he went on a media tour, joking about his ouster with Stephen Colbert, among many others. But that doesn't mean he doesn't hold a grudge. "Fuck those people!" he says about Steve Bannon and the others he considers responsible for his expulsion. "How's that for a message?"

How much you enjoy Mooch will depend on how much you enjoy the Mooch himself, who is attracted to the camera like a bear to honey. He is on constant display throughout and doesn't seem to stop talking for a single moment. It's not surprising that the film so eagerly showcases his personality, since personality is what Scaramucci is most effective at selling.

Production company: Makuhari Media
Distributor: Giant Interactive
Director-producer: Andrew J. Muscato
Executive producers: Robert Musemuci, Bobby Valentine
Director of photography: Mike Gomes
Editor: Jon Connor
Composer: Alex Bilo

83 minutes