I knew what I used to be entering into after I watched the brand new Bernie Sanders “satire” Free Lunch Specific. Producer and Mendon resident Bradford Broyles, who contacted me in regards to the movie, is the president of Vermont-based Proper and Humorous Productions. The movie’s government producer, Lenore Broughton, is one of Vermont’s biggest Republican donors. “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” star Kevin Sorbo, who makes a cameo within the movie, has gained fairly a little bit of discover recently for his right-of-center views.
In a current Daily Beast interview, which is a superb learn, Marlow Stern quizzes Sorbo about his position within the Bernie movie and the movie’s many inaccuracies relating to Sanders’ bio, together with its depiction of the younger Bernie as coming into right into a blood pact with Josef Stalin.
So, yeah. This movie has a perspective. However why ought to left-wingers and counterculture sorts have a monopoly on political satire? To discover how comedy seems to be from the opposite facet, I watched Free Lunch Specific and wrote somewhat real-time viewing diary.
First, a disclaimer: I didn’t try to fact-check this film. I am very a lot not a political reporter or a Bernie professional, however even I may see that writer-director (and 2010 Vermont senatorial candidate!) Lenny Britton was aiming for a stage of comedian absurdity with a fairly — no, extraordinarily — tenuous relationship to historic actuality.
Listed here are some highlights:
Malcolm McDowell, the ’60s icon who starred in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange earlier than turning into one in every of Hollywood’s favourite Creepy Villainous British Guys, narrates this film. And never simply in voiceover! He reclines in an armchair in a mansion with a string quartet within the background, à la Alistair Cooke within the previous “Masterpiece Theatre” intro. After exclaiming, “Expensive previous Bernie. What a narrative,” McDowell recites some fake nursery rhymes to preview the story we’re about to see.
The scene opens on a younger Bernie (Jonah Britton) who’s principally the wimpy Jojo from Jojo Rabbit, solely with Josef Stalin as his idol/imaginary pal as an alternative of Hitler. (Taika Waititi’s anti-fascist satire got here out in 2019, so the resemblance is presumably coincidental. For my cash, talking as no nice fan of both movie, Jojo Rabbit is funnier.)
Longing for revenge on the wealthy bullies who stole his lunch, Bernie pledges himself to bringing down capitalism, declaring, “I am prepared, Comrade Stalin” in a bed room filled with Communist propaganda. His Brooklyn accent isn’t good. Two extra actors will play Bernie, however this can grow to be a working theme.
Abruptly, in When Harry Met Sally… vogue, the movie turns into a mockumentary! Speaking heads give their impressions of the younger Bernie, e.g., “He actually loved doing issues with different individuals’s cash.”
The twentysomething Bernie, now performed by Sam Brittan, goes to Vermont as a result of it supposedly has a lenient welfare system. On the bus, he meets the ghost of George Washington, performed by Sorbo, who enjoins him to “get your thoughts proper” and acknowledge the greatness of America, in addition to predicting that he’ll sometime be a 1 percenter. Naturally, Bernie ignores this recommendation.
The movie’s model of Bernie is … sort of likable? Principally, he is a slacker whose one aspiration is to benefit from the good life with out working, very similar to Invoice and Ted or Jeff Spicoli in Quick Occasions at Ridgemont Excessive. He is the slob in each comedy who pisses off the squares. I dunno. I am kinda rooting for him.
The “hippie chicks” who share a commune with Bernie are means too well-groomed to be hippie chicks. Considered one of them is fats, which is performed for comedian impact.
Hippies on this film say issues like “We had been simply discussing methods to stay it to the person.”
Lisa Blake Richards, who performs the town corridor clerk whom Bernie torments together with his welfare claims, has some fairly humorous response photographs. Plus, she was on “Darkish Shadows” within the ’60s. MVP of this movie?
The film depicts Bernie as spending 40 years of his life with out gainful employment earlier than he figures out that working for elected workplace is “a license to steal.” Even then, it takes a nudge from Imaginary Stalin to make him run for mayor of Burlington. By some means I doubt that is exactly how issues went down, however hey, satire!
I lastly laughed at one thing! Throughout a sequence wherein Bernie honeymoons together with his first spouse in Soviet Moscow (due to course), he begs her to have marital relations of their bugged room, saying, “I wanna make a great impression on the comrades.” What can I say? The supply was humorous. The next milking of the joke, with disgusted KGB brokers listening in as Bernie feigns wild ardour, not a lot.
One other mildly humorous aspect: Bernie is repeatedly proven brainstorming the subsequent step in his political profession with Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who’re depicted as his stoner buddies. Whereas Ben does many of the speaking, Jerry periodically has a taste epiphany: “Chunky Monkey!” he croons, and their subsequent blockbuster product is born.
Not so humorous: Proper earlier than Bernie heads to Congress, he is depicted as shaking down Ben and Jerry for money in return for unspecified political favors.
Bernie’s early congressional platform: Make the rich pay 100% of their revenue and “work in factories, probably the salt mines.” In accordance with this movie, the one causes anybody voted for Bernie had been (1) he opposed gun management and (2) … ? Or, within the phrases of McDowell, “Are all Vermonters on medicine?”
The final third of this film, the one wherein Bernie will get previous, runs for president and turns into a nationwide icon, is admittedly, actually rushed. As Older Bernie, Charles Hutchins would not pull off a lot of an impersonation.
If you wish to see a satire of Bernie bros, or perhaps a recognition that Bernie actually related with the younger people, you are out of luck. At this level, the film appears much less fascinated with ridiculing Bernie than in skewering Jane Sanders (Elaine Ballace); the Burlington College scandal will get a number of play.
One other goal is Hillary Clinton (Cynthia Kania), who growls at Bernie, “I’ll kick your little commie ass from right here to Des Moines.” She and Jane come near having a cat battle, after which Hillary bribes Bernie to bow out of the race with a mansion on Lake Champlain (really shot someplace in California).
Naturally, AOC (Laura Aleman) additionally has to point out up. There is a scene wherein she and Bernie bond over cocktail recipes and cat movies, and it is really kinda candy.
The movie boils Bernie’s message all the way down to “I hate wealthy individuals.” Late within the movie, he laments, “I assumed there’d be extra chicks.” So principally, he is the hapless slacker hero of each broad comedy ever made.
Bear in mind how we’re informed on the finish of Nationwide Lampoon’s Animal Home that John Belushi’s fun-loving, anarchic Bluto will sometime grow to be a U.S. Senator? Free Lunch Specific is just like the characteristic movie model of that gag.
Reality-based, the film is generally not. Humorous, not often. Incisively satirical or insightful in regards to the Bernie phenomenon — I will say nope. More likely to change the thoughts of anybody who ever solid a vote for Bernie? Nope once more, on condition that it by no means acknowledges why anybody would vote for him within the first place.
However hey, it’s a film that exists. And it is tolerably paced for a low-budget movie and does conform to the expectations of its style. It additionally would possibly make an excellent reward on your crotchety Republican uncle, in case you two are nonetheless speaking after the election. You possibly can lease Free Lunch Specific on varied streaming platforms.