Weiner (2016)

Cast includes: Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin
Director: Josh Kriegman (Made), Elyse Steinberg (Waging a Living)
Genre: Documentary (96 minutes)


Huffington Post

“Shit. This is the worst,” says Anthony Weiner… “Doing a documentary on my scandal.” Archival footage of Weiner’s 2011 outburst in the House is typical… screaming, “Will the gentlemen observe regular order… and… sit… down!” Weiner is on a screaming rant and isn’t going to be stopped. “He’s scrappy and combative. He does not back down.” Both his admirers and detractors offer the same observation. Weiner is a rising star… until suddenly he isn’t. A photo from his Twitter account… a selfie showing an erect penis inside light gray underpants… prompts a barrage of questions from the press. He first claims he doesn’t know whose picture it is. “Wouldn’t you know if this was your… pants?” asks Wolf Blitzer. Comedy shows are even more brutal, with daily blow-by-blow coverage of Weinergate.

Two years after resigning from the House, Weiner decides, “the straightest line for cleaning up the mess I made was running for mayor of New York.” In a highly choreographed campaign, the Weiners… both Anthony and Huma… reintroduce themselves to voters. There are the public apologies and the personal interest stories. Voters are warming up to the new and reformed Anthony Weiner. “He didn’t commit adultery. He didn’t break up anyone’s marriage. He didn’t rape anyone. He didn’t molest anyone…” The list of what he didn’t do goes on. In the meantime, Huma needs to get out from under the dark cloud, too. She had been Hillary Clinton’s right hand advisor… a rising star in her own right until Weinergate. The campaign to rehabilitate the Weiner brand seems to be coming together, and voters are beginning to take a serious look at his candidacy. In fact, that’s why Anthony agrees to give documentary filmmakers so much access… it’s supposed to be a success story… until it isn’t. Enter “Carlos Danger!” Round II of the Weiner scandal.

Even if you remember it well, Weiner—the movie will give you insight. You may come away liking Anthony Weiner more, or you may like him even less. We see that it isn’t just the scandal that poisoned the brand. As we’re reminded, there have been plenty of politicians who have done far worse… with far less blowback. With Weiner, it was a perfect storm… his immaturity and belligerence, the press and social media’s fascination with the stupidity, and an opportunist, Sidney Leathers, who saw a chance for fame. The film is fast moving and entertaining… it’s funny and it’s sad. Unfortunately, there’s one factor in the perfect storm that continues to resonate, and that’s the dysfunctional relationship between the press and politics. We’re seeing it day by day in 2016… the issues that really matter get kicked to the curb in favor of shiny objects… a scandal, a remark, name-calling, tweets, etc. Social media and the press don’t distinguish between serious issues and entertainment… nor would it seem do voters. That’s not to say that voters are regretting their judgment of Anthony Weiner. You may come away from the film seeing Huma as unfortunate collateral damage though. In 2013, Anthony Weiner thought he could win votes by talking about his policy positions, but the press only wanted to discuss the latest twist in the scandal. On the Lawrence O’Donnell show, Weiner came on to discuss his positions, but O’Donnell only had “one question… What’s wrong with you?”

popcorn rating

3 popped kernels

An exploration of the Weiner scandal and all the factors that contributed to it

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R (Language)
Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Bold
Distribution: Mainstream Limited Release
Mood: Neutral
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished Realism
Nutshell: Weiner scandal
Language: True to life

Social Significance: Thought Provoking

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