BOYS STATE – A Review by John Strange
“Politics” can be a dirty word to some people but it is the grease that makes our world function, albeit with grunts and groans, squeals, and the occasional explosion. Boys State a film about a program begun in 1935 where American Legion Posts across this nation select a local boy to send to the state capital to participate in a version of the political process. This is to immerse the boys (teens, mostly 16 to 17 years old) in the nuts and bolts of the political system and how elections work.
In Boys State, the 1100 teenaged boys selected for the 2018 edition are broken into two parties, The Federalists and The Nationalists. Each party must come up with a party platform to use in campaigning for offices at the state level including House, Senate, Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, and Governor. They also decide upon and vote for laws they want to see in the real world (and a few they want but know they are pipedreams or totally unrealistic).
The directors, Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss, chose a small group out of the multitude to follow. These are the young men running for the party chair and the governor. Some of the campaigns, like those in “real life”, get dirty and I think that this gives us a lot to think about.
Directors McBaine and Moss took the time to let us get to know these boys and what makes them tick. Even so, some of the election results were honestly a surprise to me. This made the time I spent immersed in this film worthwhile and encouraged my decision to rate Boys State a 5-star film.
Director: Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss
Cast: Steven Garza, Robert MacDougall, Ben Feinstein, René Otero
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for some strong language, and thematic elements)
Selig Rating: 5 Stars
Runtime: 109 Min.
Playing: Available on Apple TV+ August 14, 2020
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.