by Christian Toto
Death. Taxes. Media hit pieces on right-leaning films.
The press did its darndest to ignore "2016: Obama's America," a scathing but mannered critique of President Barack Obama's formative influences. In the case of "Won't Back Down," the new pro-school choice feature opening Friday, reporters are taking a different approach.
Attack, and then question the folks who wrote the checks to make the movie happen.
Salon.com's film critic Andrew O'Hehir calls "Won't Back Down" "a set of right-wing anti-union talking points disguised (with very limited success) as a mainstream motion-picture-type product."
Perhaps that was a mistake, because the big picture is that the movie is unbelievable crap and the whole project was financed by conservative Christian billionaire Phil Anschutz, also the moneybags behind the documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” which handled a similar agenda in subtler fashion.
The wonderfully non-partisan NPR offered its own critique of the film, dropping the dread "P" word as well as also mentioning the funding source.
For all its strenuous feints at fair play, though,Won't Back Down is something less honorable — a propaganda piece with blame on its mind. Directed with reasonable competence by Daniel Barnz from a speechifying screenplay he co-wrote with Brin Hill, the movie is funded by Walden Media, a company owned by conservative mogul Philip Anschutz, who advocates creationist curricula in schools. Walden also co-produced the controversial pro-charter school documentary Waiting for Superman, so the outfit is not without axes to grind.
Do media outlets ever break down - and isolate - the backers behind "Gasland?" Or "Fahrenheit 9/11?' Or any liberal-leaning project, for that matter? What about liberal TV shows like "The Newsroom?" Or comedy programs which carry the Left's water like "Saturday Night Live?"
"Won't Back Down," like "Waiting for 'Superman'" before it, actually shatters some ideological barriers. Both films were directed by Democrats who saw a broken educational system and wanted to address it. Too bad press outlets can't put their ideological blinders aside to treat "Won't Back Down" like any other movie with a message.