Watching the news the other night about Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman and the rest of the GOP Presidential Hopefuls, I realized that any movie that wanted to take full advantage of the inevitable political fever America will be gripped by for the latter half of next year should really be getting started around now. But in case there are any wannabe topical directors out there wondering just what angle to take, here are five pitches for you - for free!
The Manchurian President
This one's self-evident: What if The Manchurian Candidate had won? This thriller would play into the paranoid fantasies of both sides of the Red/Blue divide, by suggesting that the Leader of The Free World isn't actually a free man himself, but instead one controlled by shadowy "special interests." How compromised can one man be? How compromised can he make his country? And, most importantly of all, how can he be stopped without democracy as we know it being irrevocably destroyed? Producers out to maximize profits can even make two versions by shooting different scenes where the special interests are revealed to be both a bunch of religious bigots and also a gang of socialist zealots.
Pundits may be fond of hyperbole about just how rough the race for each party's nomination can be, but imagine a post-apocalyptic dystopian, Mad Max-esque future where the only way that a candidate can prove that they're the best hope to get into the White House is by taking part in a vicious spectator sport that involved having to kill each other candidate in order to win? It's The Hunger Games meets Meet The Press, with a heavy metal soundtrack and a lesson for everyone about just how brutal politics can get. Violence and metaphor together!
The Disillusioned Candidate
This would, of course, be a grim drama shot in faux-documentary style with lots of shakey cam and someone like George Clooney as the candidate in question. Politics is a dirty business, as we all know, and this would be the film that really rams that point home. How quickly can a Presidential candidate go from idealism to realizing that he's been entirely made over to appeal to as many voters as possible at the expense of his own beliefs? The correct answer is "The running time of this movie," and don't expect any happy endings, either; the point of this movie is to show politics at its most nihilistic and soul-destroying, just in time for audiences to leave theaters and listen to promises of changing corrupt Washington one more time.
Untitled Wacky Comedy That Shows That Politics Are Cra-zee
There's a long line of attempts to create politically relevant comedies in election years: Swing Vote, Man of The Year, Head of State... I think you get the picture: I call them attempts because, let's be honest, they're rarely that funny. One of the problems is, they always seem to focus on the Main Man, and... well, as anyone who's seen In The Loop knows, the true comedy is in seeing how the people who have to support that Main Man deal with things. Get a good cast, a good director and a writer who understands the idea of "A funnier version of The West Wing with less Martin Sheen," and you should be good to go.
Democracy Is Beautiful
If there's one thing that election years really need, it's something to make people remember what the whole shebang is all about. So why not round out this list of possible political flicks with the idea of something that would be genuinely uplifting, inspirational and a reminder about why democracy is a great thing? We're used to getting sentimental, schmaltzy movies about romances and, now, holidays (Seriously, what's up with that New Years Eve trailer?), but why not put those heartstring-tugged machines to good use and actually try and get people to look beyond the ugliness and negative campaigning and push people to believe in something again? More than any of these other potential blockbusters - Seriously, those first two are golden, Hollywood - this is the one that I'd challenge the movie industry to try and make, and to make well. Let's have something inspirational about politics in an election year, even if it is just a movie.