If there’s anything I willingly admit to not knowing much about, or even paying attention to, it’s politics. Ask me anything you want about a movie and I seem to have somewhat of an eidetic memory, but I freely admit I know nothing about politics. So it should come as no surprise that I knew the Sandra Bullock film Our Brand Is Crisis was coming out, but had no idea it was based on a documentary from 2005 of the same name. The original was an examination of the questionable campaign tactics of Greenville Carville Shrum in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election.
The David Gordon Green dramedy is a fictionalized account, which is probably even more boring than the true events. You would think a film surrounding such a sensational event could whip your interest into a frenzy, but alas, screenwriter Peter Straughan has saddled Green with a schizophrenic mashup that has moments worthy of Pineapple Express anarchy. The movie winds up getting excruciatingly boring whenever it takes a serious turn. The sad thing is that it works way better in comedy mode, with the last half hour completing tanking the rest of the film. I’m not shocked about this considering Straughan also wrote Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the most boring spy movie ever committed to film.
I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Our Brand Is Crisis was greenlit because Straughan is friends with producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov — and Clooney gave his life to help save hers in Gravity. The trio of men are also responsible for another “wacky” drama The Men Who Stare at Goats. The only plus to Brand is watching Bullock deliver another winning performance as “Calamity” Jane Bodine, who is talked into helping with her brass knuckle scheming tactics to help Pedro Gallo (Joaquim de Almeida) win the election. She brings her all to the verbal sparring with Billy Bob Thornton, the man hired to lead the opposition’s campaign. Anthony Mackie is also a delight as he tries to be Jane’s right hand man.
If there’s any reason to see Our Brand Is Crisis it’s to watch Bullock shine. It still irks me that these are the kinds of roles she’s best in, yet somehow won for The Blind Side, where she gave one of the worst performances that year. Not enough funny, and a boring serious side greatly affect the entertainment factor as Green tries to have his cake and eat it too. It’s a shame that he seems to throw his hands up in the air as Straughan’s screenplay starts trying to wrap itself up and give the characters unnecessary life lessons. Not even the most hardened artsy fartsy film lover is going to walk away completely satisfied. Our Brand Is Flippy Floppy would have been a better title since Crisis merely finds itself in one of identity, leaving everyone unfulfilled in the process.