Parents' Guide to

Obama Dream

By JK Sooja, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

More fan travel film than docu; mature themes, language.

Movie NR 2020 79 minutes
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Be prepared for an entirely handheld-made documentary that feels more like a student project, fan film, or travel video blog than documentary. While there are some moments when an academic or journalist recounts a historically notable moment relevant to a particular political issue on display, mostly, Obama Dream is just a series of supporter interviews at various political functions and events. Some musical montages split these interviews up. Frankly, the film feels very casually made and slapped together. Some small technical issues also bring the experience down, like when there isn't consistency with how the film names or gives titles to some people on camera and not others. For example, Paravati notably grabs time with David Axelrod or Spike Lee, but then doesn't seem to realize who they are. While Axelrod received at least some text showing his name, Paravati never seems to acknowledge who Spike Lee is by adding text under Lee at some point, saying something like, "Spike Lee, filmmaker."

Despite these criticisms, the documentary does show the political and cultural landscape of the U.S. in 2008. It serves as a reminder of what our political and public discourses used to look like, even if still adversarial and antagonistic. It's a weird feeling to miss a country that looked like the one presented in Obama Dream circa 2008. Perhaps it was Obama's Republican opponent, the late John McCain, who said it best during one of his own campaign stops in Lakeville, Minnesota, when a woman presented him with the kind of vitriol and racism toward "the other side" so common throughout the U.S. political landscape in 2020. During that townhall style meeting, this woman told McCain that she didn't trust Obama because "he's an Arab." McCain took the microphone away from her, already in disagreement: "No ma'am, no ma'am, he's a decent family man. A citizen."

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