Movie Review - Get Me Roger Stone

Roger J. Stone, Jr. is a political operative who has been working in presidential campaigns for over 40 years. He started with the re-election of Richard Nixon in 1972 and continued to the recent election of Donald Trump in 2016. He's credited as being a pioneer or innovative in negative advertising and media attacks. He became a successful lobbyist and powerful in what was called "influence peddling." He was a key adviser in rallying, right-wing crowds, but he was viewed as a puppet-master who could manipulate candidates like chess pieces. He is currently attributed to being the puppet-master to Trump during his campaign last year. This documentary traces the origin of that relationship.

Directors Dylan Bank, Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme conduct two recent interviews of Stone and Trump. It's good, but both interviews end up being pointless. It seems unlikely that the directors would have been able to interrogate Trump. He never would have allowed anything even resembling a probe to make him account for the inner-workings of his campaign, but someone like Errol Morris would have come in handy to pry at least something more interesting than what this movie provides.

The real star of this documentary is Stone. Unfortunately, unlike in a movie such as The War Room (1993) or Weiner (2016), Stone doesn't come across as completely genuine. Even by Stone's own admission, he's putting on an act. The person on camera may or may not be real. Arguably, all subjects in documentaries have an air of performance to them, but a good filmmaker would find a way to cut through the smoke screen and/or reveal some authentic moment, which the filmmakers of The War Room and Weiner miraculously accomplished. They were like flies on the wall.

The filmmakers here though are obviously kept at bay. Stone and Trump make the line of division very clear. They also make it clear how far they can go and how the filmmakers will never be allowed fully inside. This is in stark contrast to a film like Weiner, which felt like it got intimately close to its subject. This movie doesn't get that close, despite literally being allowed into Stone's closet as we watch him undress to show off his muscular physique and Nixon tattoo on his back.

The final third of this movie is mostly archival footage of the 2016 election pulled from CNN, MSNBC and FOX News broadcasts. A better documentary wouldn't have made us feel like we were just watching TV broadcasts. It would have made us feel more in the action. There are a lot of questions about Stone that seem unanswered like how exactly does he make his money and if he really started the "dirty trick" of the birther issue regarding President Obama.

Rated TV-MA.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 41 mins.


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