Michael Scovotti, Alex Knudsen, Toks Olagundoye, Matt Jones and Anastasia… (Sand/Dollar Productions )
Just in time for Election Day comes "Democracy at Work," an amusing farce that takes a wry bite out of the campaign process, partisan politics, talk radio, the Internet and, yes, dentistry.
Writer-director Wasko Khouri shows a distinct flair for the kind of silly-dark comedy that's able to skewer a topic without entirely laying it to waste. For the filmmaker, hope — albeit fueled by beloved American opportunism — springs eternal.
Set around one chaotic day in a fictional, local election, the movie juggles three separate, sporadically intersecting stories: a dime-turning campaign manager (Michael Scovotti) and his wily aides (Matt Jones, Toks Olagundoye) scramble to pre-spin an online "rumor about a rumor" threatening to harm their candidate; a milquetoast radio host (Sean Spence), stuck refereeing a pair of rival political pundits (Meredith Thomas, Bruno Oliver) gets a much-needed ratings surge from said candidate's pending scandal; and a horny dentist (Marty Lodge) — and undecided voter — "informed" by bits from that radio show, seesaws over his mail-in ballot.
It's all pointed, fast-paced fun.
Khouri, whose choice to shoot in black-and-white enjoyably evokes a 1960s-style paranoia, has assembled a strong comic cast to help sell his wacky vision. And, except for a few knee-jerk sex jokes (is the name Dick really still funny?), it's a shrewd piece of work.
"Democracy at Work." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.