Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie (R)

Documentary 90 June 7, 2013
By Alan Scherstuhl
Used to be to get famous in the rightwing blowhard racket you had to have an act. Not today. Has anyone ever once thought, "Oh, I can't wait to hear what Sean Hannity's going to say next"? Morton Downey Jr.'s briefly ubiquitous late '90s shout-fest TV talk show was soundly denounced during its day for being all the things that it no doubt was: brutish, theatrical, and pandering. Downey himself, many suspected, was entirely full of shit as he presented himself as a working man's truth-teller railing against liberal pukes―and opening his mouth so wide on so many magazine covers that by the time of his fall, not two years after his rise, all of America knew his fillings. The new doc Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie more or less confirms the full-of-shit hypotheses-- and also that the act was strong and funny. The story is fascinating and well told. A couple years in radio taught Downey-- a frustrated poet and crooner, and a childhood friend of the Kennedys-- a new racket: screaming that the U.S.A. is the strongest country the world has ever known, and that it's also somehow being destroyed right this minute by everyone who isn't exactly like the man screaming. At its best, The Morton Downey Jr. Show was a burlesque of the genre it helped midwife: Here's the sexist asshole rightwing talker but mixed with Al Bundy, at the shoe store, facing off against women the writers dreamed up to annoy him. The film is like his life: scabrous, upsetting, kind of moving, funny as hell, alive with hints of how we've become what we are.
Seth Kramer Chris Elliott, Victoria Jackson, Gloria Allred, Morton Downey Jr., Al Sharpton, Ron Paul, Sally Jessy Raphael, Glenn Beck, Wally George, Michele Bachmann Daniel A. Miller Magnolia Pictures

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