Primary Colors (1998) / Drama-Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for strong language and sexual references
Running Time: 143 min.
Cast: John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton, Adrian Lester, Kathy Bates
Director: Mike Nichols
Screenplay: Elaine May (based on the novel by Joe Klein)
Review published September 17, 1998
John Travolta (Face/Off, Phenomenon) plays Governor Jack Stanton -- well, actually, he plays Governor Bill Clinton, in this very loose portrayal of Clinton's rise to grab the Democratic nomination in 1992. Along the way, there are "bimbo eruptions", and sex scandals galore in this insider look at damage control and the nature of politics in the late 20th centuries.
Outstanding performances grace this very interesting and insightful look into the heart of the state of our political system and what it takes to be president, and into the soul of the man that currently resides in the White House. It's not all warm and fuzzy, not is it a stinging indictment of Clinton, er, Stanton. Instead it very subtly is an indictment of the American political system and the complacency of the American public who appear more concerned with image over substance.
Yet despite the flaws of Stanton, he seems to have a connection with the people and a finger on the pulse of the country unlike any other candidate running. Some people think the president should be a role model that we should all look up to as an example of what we should try to be. In Jack Stanton we have a presidential hopeful who is more an example of who we really are as Americans, deeply flawed in our indulgences in self-pleasure yet still full of great ideas and ideals. They elect Stanton not so much because they believe him, but because they believe in him.
©1998 Vince Leo