Steal This Movie!

"OK"

Steal This Movie! Review


In case you were wondering, no, Steal This Movie! is not an adaptation of activist Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book, his 1971 how-to manifesto about beating the system. Now that would've been a creative film. Instead, it's a take on two other books, Hoffman's Letters from the Underground and Marty Jezer's Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel, combining to form the biography of America's most notorious and ego-driven radical. Unfortunately, Steal This Movie! is neither notorious nor radical, and while showing off a talented cast in some lively sequences, it tramples down some tired old trails.

As played by the ferocious Vincent D'Onofrio, Hoffman, in short, was a lunatic. A smart, ambitious, caring, vigilant lunatic. (Actually, he was eventually diagnosed as bipolar.) His group of free thinkers and anti-establishment yippies performed shockingly funny acts, some resembling performance art, all in the name of rights and equality. Director Robert Greenwald takes us along into Hoffman's world: the band "holds up" a city bus, taking people's clothes and then giving them away to those in need, and chucks dollar bills on the floor of a stock exchange to watch everyone grovel. Hoffman meets his wife-to-be Anita, keeps up the anti-war cause, and realizes that he'll probably be a lifelong organizer.

Greenwald is doing his best Oliver Stone impersonation. He stands firmly on the side of the yippies to the point of preachiness, he intercuts actual protest footage with grainy, hand-held, tight shots of the actors and atmosphere, and he plays with hokey cinematic tricks done better on The X-Files, such as cutting to a black-and-white surveillance shot of a scene, and superimposing a fake FBI file name on the screen. There is indeed someone out there, and Greenwald just never lets us forget it.

To add insult, the framework of the movie actually mimics Citizen Kane! A writer is travelling to visit the people that knew Abbie, trying to get to the bottom of the Abbie Hoffman story! If this is the only way that Greenwald and screenwriter Bruce Graham can think to tell the story non-linearly, they should borrow from something a little less ambitious. There's even a shot of the writer peering down a long hall at the FBI, with stacks and stacks of boxes bearing down upon him, the secret to Abbie's paranoia hidden somewhere -- probably in a box marked Rosebud.

Steal This Movie! is eventually nothing more than a better-than-average TV movie -- ironic since most of Greenwald's work has been TV -- but with a great cast. The players, led by the sometimes touching D'Onofrio, are the pulse and reality that make the movie bearable and even fun. Independent mainstay Kevin Corrigan is Jerry Rubin, The Tao of Steve's Donal Logue (in his 29th movie) is Stew Albert, and in an underwritten and wasted role, Kevin Pollak is Abbie's lawyer, Gerry Lefcourt. All are believable and natural, in spite of the script, but Janeane Garofalo makes it all worth watching, again. She plays Anita Hoffman as wide-eyed, resilient, pragmatic, emotional, and she nails it all. Garofalo has shown her chops with comic and romantic dialogue, but this movie finally gives her the chance to put all her talents out there. She makes some daring choices that highlight Anita's love and sympathy, and many times, this is Garofalo's movie.

This movie, with its added schlock of timely pop hits throughout, ultimately feels like it should be on NBC during sweeps. You'd think a story about subversiveness and freedom would be a little more daring as a film. Go for the cool cast. Then see if you can steal your seven bucks back.

Giddy-up, Abbie!



Facts and Figures

Run time: 107 mins

In Theaters: Friday 28th June 2002

Distributed by: LionsGate Entertainment

Production compaines: Ardent Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 51%
Fresh: 22 Rotten: 21

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer:

Starring: as Abbie Hoffman, as Anita Hoffman, as Johanna Lawrenson, Kevin Pollak as Gerry Lefcourt, as Stew Albert, as Jerry Rubin, as America - 7 & 8 Years Old

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.