The box office juggernaut that is 2016: Obama's America just keeps rolling along. After earning more than $20 million in its first two weeks of wide release, it is on pace to pass Bowling for Columbine and An Inconvenient Truth to become the second-highest-grossing political documentary ever (Fahrenheit 9/11 holding the top spot).
Clearly its tagline's promise to reveal the Barack Obama the media failed to investigate ("Love him, hate him, you don't know him") has proved a powerful enticement for moviegoers. And to a certain degree, the film delivers.
Writer/director/narrative-guide Dinesh D'Souza offers up plenty of heretofore unpublicized information about the president, including his relationship with communist writer and activist Frank Marshall Davis and the pains his mother took to inculcate him with her leftist ideology. We learn, for example, that she intentionally separated him from a stepfather who tended to have views far more pro-American and pro-capitalist than her own. Segments dealing with the college-age Obama's political activities and his later involvement with domestic terrorists like Bill Ayers are similarly valid and illuminating territory for viewers who haven't heard these things before.
Where the film falls short, however, is when D'Souza plays poor man's psychoanalyst. While it is fair to speculate that Obama's absentee Kenyan father influenced his beliefs about colonialism, it doesn't seem just to pronounce definitively what that influence might be. Many young men grow up without a dad around. Not all of them grow up to become community organizers espousing socialist philosophies.
It's particularly strange that D'Souza devotes so much time to his Obama-as-Third-World-Anti-colonialist theory given how much evidence he has amassed for Obama-as-run-of-the-mill-radical. From his mother, to his college associates, to his pre-presidency career, to his actual words, everything in the president's background and, well, foreground paints him as nothing more nor less than a hard-left activist. This may not be quite as exotic, but for a center-right country, it's still just as frightening.