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Critic's notebook

'2016: Obama's America' goes by the book

Dinesh D'Souza's documentary, which promises to demystify the president, draws from a tome by the filmmaker. Thus, its course is already set — and that's a weakness.

August 26, 2012|By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic

The core thesis in "2016" is that Obama's politics come from Third World influences — from his father in Kenya and his early years spent with his mother in Indonesia. There are lengthy explanations of colonialism, which D'Souza supports, versus what he describes as Obama's preference for an anticolonialist approach, one that would favor the rise of the Third World (or, as D'Souza labels it, the United States of Islam), greatly reduce Israel's influence and cede the U.S.' role as a superpower.

D'Souza goes on to argue that this approach explains everything from healthcare reform to a reduction in the nuclear arsenal. Interviews with interested parties, news footage and excerpts from Obama's 1995 book "Dreams From My Father," are woven in as well. But mostly it is D'Souza connecting the dots; there are no opposing points of view.

In weighing "2016's" documentary credentials, one scene that resurfaces many times in the film is instructive. Shot at the grave of Obama's father, the scene shows a close-up of a hand grasping some dirt and reverently dropping it onto the burial site. The hand is an actor's, not Obama's.

The moment is merely another piece of heavy-handed drama conjured up by the filmmakers — nothing more, nothing less.


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