The Best Democracy Money Can Buy makes Michael Moore docs seem subtle

Agit-prop film about the Republican lie of voter fraud is undone by obnoxious animation and green-screen gimmickry


THE BEST DEMOCRACY MONEY CAN BUY (Greg Palast, David Ambrose). 111 minutes. Opens Friday (November 4). See listings. Rating: N See listing.


After the 2000 election of George W. Bush, political reporter Greg Palast broke the story that then-governor Jeb Bush had purged Florida’s electoral rolls of thousands of eligible voters, most of them people of colour who would likely have voted against his brother.

Palast has pursued the Republican big lie of voter fraud – the excuse Jeb used to make his purge, and the excuse the GOP has used to disenfranchise thousands more in subsequent elections – ever since.

He’s a hell of a journalist. But he needs to stay away from moviemaking.

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy is an agit-prop documentary that follows Palast down the rabbit hole of voter fraud, connecting the dots between Republican schemes, questionable Supreme Court decisions and the ultraconservative billionaire Koch brothers to puncture that big lie in what turns out to be the most frustrating manner imaginable.

Palast and co-director David Ambrose have plenty of damning evidence, but they bury their journalistic content under a silly meta-narrative that casts Palast as a dogged film-noir hero on the trail of a shadowy conspiracy. Everything is drenched in obnoxious animation and green-screen gimmickry that make Michael Moore’s folksy schtick seem sober and considered.

I think Palast and Ambrose hope to appeal to attention-deficient millennials, but their reference points are decades out of date. Only in a couple of dopey dream sequences – in which Palast is aided on his quest by Ice-T, Richard Belzer and Shailene Woodley riffing on their characters from Law & Order: SVU and the Divergent series respectively – does the movie even ­approach cultural relevance.

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