The Ides of March (George Clooney, 2011)

What's it about? Stephen (Ryan Gosling) is an idealistic junior campaign manager working for the slick Democratic presidential candidate Mike Morris (George Clooney). However, his ideals and loyalty are tested as he discovers that scandal and dirty tricks are all part and parcel of politics.

Is it any good? It's a bit like Barack Obama. Confident, looks good, sounds good, doesn't really make much of an impact in the end up. That's not to say it's bad; it's an entertaining story, in spite of some unlikely plot developments, and well acted by Gosling and the rest of the heavyweight cast (including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and Marisa Tomei). But after a while it becomes apparent that this has nothing new to say that we haven't already heard in other political dramas like The Candidate and The Contender, or TV's The West Wing, or even in Shakespeare's Julius Caeser, for that matter. Politics is dirty, ideals must be compromised, people get stabbed in the back, Earth is not flat, and so on. Given that Clooney had previously given us a much sharper look at media and politics with the excellent Good Night, & Good Luck, this feels a bit safe and never really stand out from the crowd. Like most politicians, it promises great things to come, but never really delivers on them.

Anything else I should know? I once attended a speech by Julius Caeser. He stood up and said "Friends, Romans and Countrymen, lend me your ears. I have returned from our campaign in France and we killed 50,000 Gauls". My friend, who had been in France at the time, heckled him from the crowd " You're lying, Caeser!" he shouted. "I've just been in France and you only killed 25,000!!". The crowd murmured in shock as Caeser called for silence. My dear friend," he said, "you are forgetting that away Gauls count double in Europe".

What does the Fonz think? I think if you ever tell another joke like that, you can find another co-reviewer. The film does enough in the arena to get a thumb up.

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