Critic’s Corner: A Collection of Films About Corrupt (and Inept) Politicians

It’s been 10 days since a small group of stubborn U.S. senators shut down our government. The shutdown has proven once and for all that our government officials are nothing but a stumbling group of idiots more concerned with their own egos than the people they profess to serve. At this 10-day point, some civilians are still furloughed, Obama is probably enjoying his vacation time and our senators continue to struggle with the novel concept of “compromise.”

In honor of our government’s inability to pull their heads out of their a**es, I’ve assembled a collection of films that feature corrupt and inept politicians that make our senators look like saints.

So, here’s to you Ted Cruz:


The Ides of March

Smokehouse Pictures
Smokehouse Pictures

Ryan Gosling and George Clooney star in a tale of dirty politics—a young, idealistic staffer working on a presidential campaign gets wrapped up in his candidate’s filthy secrets and lies.

WHY THEY SUCK: The politicians in “The Ides of March” spend the whole movie bribing other politicians with job promotions, staging press leaks and actively working to destroy the career of the only nice guy in town. And that’s sh**ty.


Election

Paramount Studios
Paramount Studios

In this social and political satire, Matthew Broderick, a high school teacher and adviser to the student government, tries his darndest to make sure that one of his least favorite students Tracy (Reese Witherspoon) doesn’t win the election for student body president.

WHY THEY SUCK: The school suspends a candidate named Tammy, who runs on an anarchist platform, in order to restore order after she announces her plans to dissolve the student government. Witherspoon destroys another candidate’s campaign materials. And, worst of all, Broderick’s character commits electoral fraud.

So root for Tammy y’all—a vote for anarchy is a vote for morality.


The Manchurian Candidate

United Artists
United Artists

I’m not talking about the Denzel remake—I’m talking about the good old-fashioned, Cold War-era film about a former prisoner of war who is brainwashed by communists and tasked with assassinating a number of U.S. politicians.

WHY THEY SUCK: The communists are everywhere. They’re just everywhere. Even Angela Lansbury is a communist.


All the President’s Men

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

“All the President’s Men” follows Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford as the two journalists who busted Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal in 1972.

WHY THEY SUCK: If you honestly don’t understand why Nixon was corrupt, I can’t help you.


The Last King of Scotland

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Based on the novel of the same name, “The Last King of Scotland” is inspired by notorious dictator Idi Amin’s rule in Uganda and his relationship with his Scottish physician.

WHY THEY SUCK: The corruption in this movie is just rampant–truly rampant. There’s a coup d’état, lying left and right, assassination attempts and, to top it all off, Amin sends his henchmen to kill and mutilate one of his many wives—let me tell you, nothing says corruption quite like butchering your third wife.


The Pelican Brief

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

“The Pelican Brief” tells a stressful story about an unfortunate law student who is simply too smart for her own good. After the assassination of two Supreme Court justices, student Darby Shaw (Julia Roberts) drafts a brilliant legal brief containing what she believes to be the real motive of the assassinations. Eventually, Darby teams up with a local reporter (Denzel Washington), who helps uncover the nasty truth.

WHY THEY SUCK: So many people die in this movie. The government manages to kill more than half the cast before forcing the poor, beautiful law student out of the country. It’s like the political version of “The Ring”—everyone who so much as glances at the Pelican Brief dies within the week.


Good Night, and Good Luck

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Directed by George Clooney, “Good Night, and Good Luck” examines the role of the media during Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist witch-hunt, specifically focusing on broadcast journalist Edward Murrow.

WHY THEY SUCK: McCarthyism is only slightly less corrupt than the Salem Witch Trials—fewer people were burned at the stake.


Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Columbia Pictures

“Dr. Strangelove” follows a crazy Air Force general who orders an impromptu nuclear strike against the USSR. After the order is given, U.S. politicians scramble to halt the oncoming nuclear apocalypse.

WHY THEY SUCK: Everyone is so stupid.


Syriana

Warner Bros.

A political thriller, “Syriana” centers itself on the petroleum industry and investigates the corrupt world of greasy oil politics.

WHY THEY SUCK: Where there’s oil, there’s a**holes.


Elizabeth

working title films

“Elizabeth” recounts Queen Elizabeth I of England’s tumultuous first years on the throne—she evades several assassination attempts and an overthrow by slaughtering all of her dissenters.

WHY THEY SUCK: What isn’t corrupt about 16th century politics? It was a time when executioners mounted civilians’ severed heads on spikes for even minor infractions like pickpocketing and calling the queen a b*tch. Everyone’s brains were so mangled by hunger, thirst and centuries of incest that it took too much effort to turn the other cheek.
But in Elizabeth’s defense—it’s hard to be a woman.


The Lion King

Walt Disney Pictures

In this classic Shakespearian adaptation, young Simba is forced to reconcile with his troubled past and assume his rightful place as the king of Pride Rock before his evil uncle Scar destroys the entire African continent.

WHY THEY SUCK: MUFASA DIES.

Kellie Cox

Kellie Cox is a senior journalism major and film studies minor. Formerly the Arts and Entertainment editor, Kellie joined the Spectator as a writer her sophomore year. When she's not in the office, Kellie sings in three Seattle University choirs, collects tacky mugs from Value Village, and studies impractical things like handwriting analysis and criminal psychology.


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