There’s no denying Donald Trump dominated Hollywood’s attention span for four straight years.
Not only did Tinseltown liberals work on a daily basis to slam him and his supporters, his existence influenced some of the shows and movies produced during his administration.
While most of those projects were hyper-partisan attacks, others responded to the Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) taking hold of these artists-turned-pundits.
So much content, both negative and positive, centered around President Trump it became its own small economy.
Call it Trump Cinema.
Let’s take a look at some of these shows and films and see if any had value beyond stoking one side of the political aisle.
Our Cartoon President (2018-2020)
Trump’s arrival proved very good news for some, including “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert. The hard-left comic’s hyper-focus on Trump breathed new life into his stale “Show,” giving him a ratings boost he has yet to relinquish.
Colbert doubled down on feeding the far-left with not one, but two animated series built almost entirely around selling a liberal narrative: CBS All Access’ “Tooning Out the News” and Showtime’s “Our Cartoon President.”
The latter offers an “inside” look at Trump’s White House, with each member of the administration turned into the most extreme caricature version sold to us by the press.
“Our Cartoon President” is a concept that actually could work. Even Trump supporters can admit the president’s brash style sets him apart from others. What doesn’t connect about Colbert’s creation, however, is how hollow it is.
Take a series like “Family Guy,” a show that leans heavily left but occasional lands solid blows against the Right. When Rush Limbaugh joined the show for an episode, they fit their digs in but made the conservative talker a human being.
“Our Cartoon President,” by comparison, has zero empathy for anyone on the screen.
You just move from one nonsensical scene to the next, with the writers making no attempt to see reality from a conservative or centrist’s perspective. The series is built on the extremist fantasies the president’s most devout haters have built their political beliefs around.
This also leads to a show that’s rarely funny.
Cardboard characters stand around and share “jokes” you can find on Twitter days or even weeks earlier. This really is a series only meant for those suffering from the worst version of TDS. The fact that it lasted three seasons speaks to how real that affliction is.
The Trump Prophecy (2018)
For a film like this to work for non-Trump voters it would need a sense of irony and context.
Unfortunately, “Prophecy” lacks anything like that, making it only for the most devoted MAGA type. It’s similar to another movie that worshipped a decidedly different figure nine years ago.
“The Obama Effect” gushed over a president who seemed new and bold at the time. Both movies suffer from the same blinders, the filmmakers losing themselves in their political bubbles.
“The Trump Prophecy” is supposedly based on a true story — a man believed he was receiving messages from God that Trump would become president. The film production involved filmmaking students from Liberty University, giving them firsthand experience on a working set.
The latter makes it tough to completely dismiss the movie, but it’s also fitting because “Trump Prophecy” never feels like more than a cheap student film that should be 30 minutes long … tops. Instead, it runs an unnecessary two hours in total.
Hopefully, a Biden presidency won’t bring us another example of this loyalist cinema. We aren’t perfect, but none of us deserves “Biden: The Savior.”
The Comey Rule (2020)
Showtime’s miniseries had all the glitz and glamour of a big-budget Hollywood production. It’s still as empty and ill-informed as the majority of “clever” political takes from Trump’s most vocal critics.
That’s not to say “The Comey Rule” should be resented for having a viewpoint. Something critical of Trump and his administration does not disqualify it from being good work — and vice versa — but this miniseries is all agenda and no story.
It’s a fantasy of Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation that looks worse in light of the result of the wasteful affair, not to mention the Trump-hating text messages exchanged by liberal warrior agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
Not to mention the Steele Dossier, the questionable “intelligence” that kicked off these Russia/Trump conspiracy theories.
Facts aside, “The Comey Rule” is a three-plus hour Mueller love affair based on liberal fantasies in which every actor plays a cartoonish version of their real-life counterparts. Peter Coyote’s Mueller is the consummate professional, dealing with a changing D.C. landscape and shaken by the questionable morals of an inexperienced and aggressive president (Brendan Gleeson). The character actor plays the exact venom-spitting bully Trump’s most committed critics believe him to be.
“The Comey Rule” shares similar flaws as “Our Cartoon President” — though they are admittedly shooting for very different tones.
It’s blinded by TDS.
“Rule” forgets what makes characters compelling and layered and how a story can enthrall us. The makers are so driven by agenda and their need to lay out a political narrative, it’s like their TDS was whispering in their ear during production, telling them their lazy writing won’t matter because the world will be just as consumed with their mission as they are.
Michael Moore in TrumpLand/Fahrenheit 11/9 (2016/2018)
Say what you will about Michael Moore’s questionable editing and quasi-truths. He proved somewhat entertaining when he started in the business.
Films like “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Bowling for Columbine” were riddled with falsehoods and troubling, behind-the-scenes tactics, but they made big coin. Plus, Moore proved the documentary could be financially lucrative as some bigger studio films.
Under Trump, though, Moore has struggled to stay relevant as a filmmaker. He’s tried aligning himself with the more extreme left-wing of his party through his association with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). That seems to have kept him part of the conversation, but he’s brought almost none of his past flair to his recent films.
Moore made not one, but two movies about Trump. The first, “Michael Moore in TrumpLand,” was released right before the 2016 presidential election. It’s essentially a one-man show where Moore is trying to prove to Trump voters that their pick for president is a fraud.
He had the opposite effect, though. One clip describing Trump as a “grenade” being thrown into Washington by a frustrated populace became a rallying cry for voters eager to disrupt what they saw as a corrupt system.
His second Trump-focused effort, “Fahrenheit 11/9,” is a cinematic nothingburger. It gained almost zero traction and for good reason. Nothing new is presented in the film, and Moore just blathers on, repeating claims anyone who tunes into MSNBC or CNN can hear on a near 24-hour basis.
It was just one of many Trump-focused documentaries that thought presenting conspiracy theories would work because the TDS infecting producers makes them think everyone agrees on how horrible Trump.
Between the two, “Michael Moore in TrumpLand” was at least interesting, though likely for reasons Moore himself did not even intend.
Obamagate: The Movie (2020)
Phelim McAleer’s project is more filmed stage play than movie, but it’s still worth watching. Using the now infamous texts between Strzok and Page during Mueller’s investigation, Dean Cain and Kristy Swanson bring the right balance to the project. They never take themselves too seriously but also refuse to make light of the situation..
While deeper dives into the Mueller investigation may be better suited for the more politically-minded — at least the ones left who have managed to keep paying attention to the ridiculousness D.C. has become — but ‘Obamagate: The Movie’ presents such bizarrely real absurdity through two strong performances that it may the the ‘in’ someone more politically-hesitant may need to actually pay attention to these issues at all.
Trump Card (2020)
Next to Moore, Dinesh D’Souza is the most successful maker of political documentaries. Agree or disagree with him, he always comes loaded with facts and has a strong point of view he’s willing to defend to the bitter end.
“Trump Card” doesn’t cover a lot of new ground for anyone aware of media bias or how political narratives are sold to the American people. It’s still a worthy culmination of just that.
Most reviewers can’t hear D’Souza’s name without their faces going red, but if they really wanted to understand the perspective of a Trump voter who does not fit the Left’s stereotypes, then this would be the movie to watch.
This will be one of the few Trump-centric movies that will have value years from now for anyone who wants to get a real sense of the hysteria that took hold of the culture while Trump was in office.