It's difficult to say who deserves more credit for what works in I Want Your Money, Ray Griggs or Ronald Reagan.
On the one hand, Griggs hurdles the biggest documentary challenge by giving his self-financed film a standout title. He also employs a series of humorous vignettes wherein an animated Reagan schools Barack Obama and a roomful of political noteworthies on Economics 101. The imagined conversations may be a little goofy, but they don't lack teeth.
On the other hand, every time the real Reagan takes center stage, all the cartoons and commentary by a variety of talking heads fade into the background. His speeches are so well-reasoned and convincing, you can't help but wonder why every Republican since him hasn't followed his model. And when Jimmy Carter attempts to paint Reagan as a dangerous extremist, viewers won't be able to resist a comparison between Obama and today's Tea Party candidates.
However, despite having the magic of the Gipper on its side, I Want Your Money (rated PG for thematic elements, brief language, and smoking) doesn't fire on all cylinders. For starters, documentaries are not supposed to be stump speeches, and Griggs spends too much time on camera making pronouncements rather than assembling evidence. It's the old "show, don't tell" rule. Instead of saying, "The government's first job is to protect the people, not run their lives or steal their ambition," as he does, Griggs should spend time furthering his case that the government is increasingly running our lives.
Then Griggs takes the easy path by not giving voice to the opposition. Either he didn't film any left-leaning politicians or intellectuals defending their fiscal philosophies, or he decided not to use the footage.
But even if I Want Your Money isn't all a conservative-capitalist moviegoer could hope for, there's one group for whom it's an absolute must-see. Footage of Reagan unflinchingly defending supply-side economics reminds us how persuasive a candidate with the courage of his convictions can be. The 2012 presidential hopefuls would be wise to take note.