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America Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 1.0

    out of 100

    Overwhelming dislike
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 30

    out of 100

    Variety Joe Leydon

    For the most part, however, D’Souza gives the impression of someone obsessed with whitewashing any and all dark chapters in U.S. history books. There are times when his defenses and rationalizations come across as almost laughably facile.

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  • 30

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Stephen Farber

    Here is one more dubious piece of agitprop that will delight the author’s fans and have very little impact on his opponents.

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  • 40

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Martin Tsai

    It's far more invested in elaborate historical reenactments, hypothetical dramatizations and special effects than interviews, research and data.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Highly charged docu has strongly conservative message.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that America -- a documentary film from Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan -- has a distinctly conservative point of view. It uses interviews, newsreel footage, reenactments (some showing violent battles with rifles, bayonets, and on-camera deaths), as well as speeches and the written words of America's founders to claim that there's an ongoing conspiracy, fuelled by leftist radicals, to shame America, undermine the country's principles, and ultimately cause its destruction by "suicide" from within. D'Souza is the interviewer, the narrator, and the lecturer. A few short scenes depart from actual history -- i.e. in a reenactment, George Washington is killed by a sniper's bullet, but he's soon on screen again, alive and well, as he leads the country in its formative years. How this film will be perceived depends mostly on viewers' existing attitudes and beliefs. For those who come to the film with no preconceptions, it's crucial to have resources for fact-checking and to understand who the players are and what they hope to achieve.

  • Families can talk about the use of historical reenactments to heighten a film's message. In dramatic movies "based on" or "inspired by" true stories, viewers have come to accept the fact that the filmmakers imagine what might happened in individual scenes. Is this true for documentaries, or should there be a different standard?
  • Discuss the various goals of filmmaking: to inform, to entertain, or to persuade. What is the primary purpose of America? How do you know? Why is it important to understand the filmmakers' purpose?
  • Do you think documentaries are required to be objective? Why or why not?
  • Did this movie show you or help you "imagine a world without America"? If not, why do you think that phrase/tagline was part of the film's marketing?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Depending on your political beliefs, the film's message about conspiracy and destruction will either resonate with you or not. The arguments are stated as fact, then all material included is designed to confirm that presumption.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Carefully selected actions and words in reenactments of events and speeches by Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Alexis de Tocqueville, and other historical figures are used to bolster the filmmakers' ideas. Conservative politicians and intellectuals are presented as admirable, dedicated, and insightful, while all representatives of the left (including earnest academics) are depicted as either naive or wrong-headed. Some liberal leaders and scholars are blatantly accused of wanting to destroy the American way of life.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Re-enactments of historical battles show gunfire, bayonets, and violent hand-to-hand combat; men are killed and fall to the ground. One theoretical scene shows a sniper firing on and killing George Washington.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Not applicable

  • language false0

    Language: Not applicable

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A few characters smoke (particularly in the filmed reenactments).