SXSW 2000 Film Festival and Conference

Steal This Movie!

Dir/Co-Prod: Robert Greenwald; Scr: Bruce Graham; Exec Prod: Jon Avnet; Co-Prod: Robert Greenwald, Jake Rose, Liz Selzer; DP: Dennis Lenoir; Ed: Kimberley Ray; Cast: Vincent D'Onofrio, Janeane Garofalo, Kevin Pollak, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Kevin Corrigan, Donal Logue, Troy Garrity.

35mm, 103 min., 2000

Greenwald's Abbie Hoffman biopic has a pretty wishful title: Overwrought and cluttered as it is, it's unlikely anyone's going to enjoy it, much less make plans to take a copy home with them. D'Onofrio is fine as the Yippie-founding Sixties radical, but the script jumps around from Hoffman's wild salad days with the Chicago Seven and co-conspirators Jerry Rubin (Kevin Corrigan) and Tom Hayden (Troy Garity) to his increasingly paranoid wanderings during the 1970s to his final, lonely suicide. Garofalo takes a stab at a non-comedic role for a change, and as Hoffman's wife, Anita, she brings a touch of maudlin feminism to the role. Clearly, it's not her forte, and the pedantic script doesn't do her any favors either. The film posits Hoffman as the perpetually beleaguered underdog of the movement, a countercultural hero made all the more heroic by the fact that in the end he was alone and unsupported by his original allies, who had since gone on to somewhat more respectable avenues. Hoffman's actions and subversive theatrics are undercut by the film's muddled need to explain every facet of his mindset, when, of course, one of the most interesting things about the Sixties counterculture was how no one really ever knew what was going to happen next. With Steal this Movie!, you not only know what's going to happen, you're already wincing at how trite it all seems.

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