There has been a wave of political documentaries released over the past few months as we inch closer to the 2020 election. "The Accidental President" takes a look back at the 2016 election and how exactly Donald J. Trump became the 45th President of the United States. But what makes this one in particular stand out, is that it is the rare documentary that bothers to tell its story from all angles. Whether you consider yourself on the "left" or "right," you must agree that almost no one saw Trump becoming President until he actually did.
Director James Fletcher reportedly put the finishing touches on his documentary, "The Accidental President," while his wife, CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin, was quarantined after testing COVID-positive earlier this year. And while the film clearly views the Trump Presidency as a "perfect storm" of events that saw the business mogul and Reality TV Host - against all odds - win the 2016 election, it also really attacks the Hillary Clinton campaign as being inept and overconfident.
As former counselor to President Trump Kellyanne Conway says in the film, she was more confident that Hillary Clinton could lose an election than she was that Donald Trump could win one. Whether it was the Clinton campaign's egregious mistake to not have a ground game in states like Michigan or Wisconsin, to their dismissal of what was really a growing rage in the country against "usual" politicians, Clinton and her campaign really did everything perfectly to NOT win the election...as us Detroit Lions fans say, her campaign snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
In addition to Conway, this documentary features a virtual who's who of political pundits from both sides of the aisle, from Kellyanne Conway to Anthony Scaramucci, Van Jones, Steve Schmidt, Frank Luntz, John Avlon, Piers Morgan and more. From his initial descent down the escalator to his swearing in as President, the film chronicles Trump's rise to the highest office in the land. In a time when yesterday's news cycle is almost completely forgotten in lieu of today's, this film is a stark reminder of just how much of a long-shot it actually was that Trump would not only win President, but come out of a crowded Republican primary as the party's nominee.
But what makes "The Accidental President" more than just a trip down memory lane (a painful one or a gleeful one depending on your politics) is how it frames the entire story of 2016 as a "can it happen again" sort of question for 2020. A "perfect storm" implies that it is rare and can't happen again, but if Trump were to be re-elected in 2020 - again, against all odds - it simply cannot be considered a fluke that he became President.
Here's a film that should be seen by anybody with a stake in our country - left or right, old or young - as a cautionary tale, or as an example of how a population in love with Reality TV couldn't turn away from the proposition of Washington being upended by an anti-establishment anti-hero.
Run Time: 1 hour 46 minutes.
Directed by James Fletcher (directorial debut).
"The Accidental President' will be available in Virtual Theaters on October 16th, 2020 and available On Demand on October 27th, 2020.
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