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Laramie Movie Scope:
Courting Condi

A funny fake and real documentary about Condoleezza Rice

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 31, 2009 -- This mockumentary follows a lovesick musician (Devin Ratray of “Home Alone”) and his filmmaker friend, Sebastian Doggart (who also wrote and directed the film) on a cross country odyssey to find the real Condoleezza Rice. Ratray wants to win the heart of the most powerful woman in the world. He decides the best way to do that is with music, a makeover, sports and to find out all he can about Rice.

Ratray makes audio-video “love disks” that are love letters on DVD he sends to Rice. He writes songs for her. He tries to tone up his overweight body. His cross-country journeys take him across the country to Condi's birthplace in Birmingham, Ala. She grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, when much of the south, including Birmingham, was segregated, but she was determined not to let that hold her back. Next, Ratray and Doggart head to Denver, where Condi lived from 1969 to 1981. Condi gave up on the idea of being a concert pianist and figure skater. She became interested in international politics because of an inspirational professor, Dr. Josef Korbel (father of the first woman Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright).

Korbel believed in practical politics, and passed this belief on to his student. Rice would abandon this view of politics after the 9/11 attacks. She became an idealist, buying into the Bush doctrine of preemptive war, rendition, torture, warrantless wiretaps and illegal imprisonment. Also in Denver, Doggart and Ratray interview former football great Rick Upchurch, who was engaged to Rice for a time. Upchurch said he believes Rice is still a virgin. A comparison is made to England's “virgin queen,” Elizabeth. Ratray tries to learn to ice skate and play football, because of Condi's interest in those things. These are part of the film's numerous humorous interludes.

The next stop on the tour is Palo Alto, California, where Condi was both Provost at Stanford University (the youngest in the school's history), and on the board of directors of Chevron Corporation (which named an oil tanker after her) and other corporations and organizations. Although Rice benefitted from Stanford's affirmative action program, she had no problem cutting minority people's jobs in order to balance the university's budget.

Next, Doggart and Ratray headed back to New York, before heading to Washington, D.C. to try to meet Rice. The movie is sprinkled with musical numbers by Ratray and others. Ratray is actually a good musician with a fine singing voice. The movie is also sprinkled with interviews with people who knew Rice years ago, and who know her now. There are also interviews with policy experts who reveal some interesting facts about Rice's academic, business and political careers. There is information about Rice in this movie that you probably won't get anywhere else. On the one hand, this is a silly musical comedy and mock documentary. On the other hand, it is also serious documentary about a woman who seems to have sold her soul for power. Like President George Bush, Rice doesn't seem to believe in regrets or self-examination. This is an original, and unique film with a split personality. It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2009 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)