Greetings again from the darkness. She was groundbreaking with her standup comedy and her top rated TV show (1988-97), and has always voiced her disdain towards the system that penalizes working class families. Roseanne Barr was a huge star with a talent for making people laugh, while also making a point. You likely know all of that, and probably don’t know that in 2012, she ran for President … of the United States … of America.
Director Eric Weinrib produced a couple of Michael Moore documentaries (Capitalism: A Love Story, Sicko), so it’s not surprising that he takes on the presentation of a comedic icon’s Presidential campaign … and includes interviews with Rosie O’Donnell, Michael Moore, and Tommy Smothers. We first see Roseanne smoking a joint while driving her car, and we soon learn her platform consists of: Legalizing marijuana, no more wars, and a bit of single-payer healthcare. Of course, this campaign (or this movie) isn’t so much about issues as it is the persona of Roseanne Barr.
She seems pretty “normal” while at home in Hawaii with her “long time boyfriend” John Argent. Things turn a bit surreal when we actually see the campaign in action as she competes against Dr. Jill Stein for the Green Party nomination. If you are unfamiliar with the Green Party, it is most noted for its 1968 candidate, Eldridge Cleaver. Roseanne’s campaign manager is Farheen Hakeem, who has almost as much screen time as the candidate herself. Why is that? Well, because Roseanne doesn’t much like to be around people, and prefers to give her speeches over Skype rather than in-person.
It’s here that we should note director Weinrib’s inclusion of Roseanne’s backstory, including her mental health issues stemming from being hit by a car while in high school. We are told she “woke up a different person”, and interviews with her brother, her sister, and her mother seem to confirm this.
Displaying her world class bitterness after losing the Green Party nomination, Roseanne rebounds by moving to the Peace and Freedom Party and naming Cindy Sheehan as her Vice Presidential running mate. We are informed she finished 6th nationally in the Presidential election, receiving more than 67,000 votes though limited to only being on the ballot in 3 states.
The campaign and the election are mere after-thoughts here, and the interest (if any exists) is derived from watching Roseanne the person/celebrity react to the moments as they come. The authenticity from her TV show is on display as her emotions prevent her from hiding her true thoughts – regardless of how brusque she might seem.
1990’s infamous rendition of The National Anthem at a Padres game is revisited, complete with the crotch grab and spit. So, when Roseanne states “They don’t recognize what I stand for or what I’ve done”, the filmmaker doesn’t let her off that easy. It’s a reminder of how sometimes one has to go along to get along, and that mere celebrity, emotion and sense of entitlement may not be enough to elicit change. Releasing the movie in the year of Donald Trump’s campaign makes the comparisons quite easy … even if the Donald has yet to join Roseanne’s now public profession of her love of pot.
watch the trailer: