Film Reviews Cat

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)


“The Trial of the Chicago 7” is about the historical events that took place at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. I am not sure if this is actually a historically accurate movie, but that is less relevant.

Let’s start with the positive. The message of this movie is good, and should be considered very relevant, especially now that the political climate is still recovering from past decisions that were made. Anyway, it had a great potential, but the execution of it was really bad in my opinion. The main reason is that such important events which had a huge impact on society should not be portrayed like a parody, or a semi-comedy. The choice to cast Sacha Baron Cohen (playing Abbie Hoffman) for this film was the first mistake. One could argue that he is able to play different roles, but I clearly could hear his “Bruno” voice which made it feel like a spoof, a parody. It was more something to laugh at because it looks and sounds so ridiculous. However, that was not the only problem. More than half the characters, about 8/10, looked, sounded, and acted like a weird “Saturday Night Live” parody. They really looked like it most of the time. Moreover, Eddie Redmayne (playing Tom Hayden) was another weird choice because he isn’t very convincing playing the role of Hayden. Cohen and Redmayne are both from England, but at least Redmayne manages to perform with an US accent. Nevertheless, his entire performance feels forced and unnatural. Maybe it’s because of the parody script which was meant to be a “Drama, History, Thriller” script. I have no idea where they got the “thriller” genre from. Must be a sales thing, or a redefined genre. 

It is not so much that I have a huge issue with parodies, but this was clearly not meant to be one. Yet this “Drama, History, Thriller” has all the ingredients of such a movie. No, it’s not only because Sacha Baron Cohen is playing in this movie. It is much more than that. However, at times there were decent drama scenes (about two or three), but they were not well developed. What happened in these situations was that I could feel that the dramatic scenes were being formed, but they collapsed in the end because of some weird gimmicky event, or dialogue. It was like an airplane was about to take off, but suddenly lost its engines. It’s simply disappointing to watch. 

So do i have anything positive to say about “The Trial of the Chicago 7” except that the premise was good? Well… the first ten to fifteen minutes were good. And as the audience you know what you are getting yourself into within that time frame. However, this is pretty much it. Yes I know it got good reviews on IMDB, but clearly the people that rate this movie higher than a 6.5/10 don’t mind a parody take on such an historical event. Keep in mind that this movie was clearly not meant to be a parody by the makers (unless IMDB placed the wrong genres next to the movie). 

To be honest I don’t think it will be very useful to go more into depth about the unnecessary scenes, the not so great acting, and a bad developed plot. Well maybe the latter deserves a little more attention. When you are shooting a ‘historical’ ‘drama’ (historical parody) you would expect that you would know how to create a decent plot. Meaning, a rising action, climax, fall and all the rest of it. However, for some reason none of this actually fully develops because it always feels like it suddenly cuts out to the next event without fully developing the current part. This makes it feel very jumpy, and unfulfilling. It is like having one bite of chocolate, a tiny lick of ice cream, and smelling a delicious meal without seeing, or consuming it. In other words it has so much potential, and therefore it should be rewritten into something serious. A new script with new actors. Get rid of that SNL parody look, and bring in serious drama actors that are able to play the role of…whoever. 

Director: Aaron Sorkin. Writer: Aaron Sorkin.

Eddie RedmayneTom Hayden
Alex SharpRennie Davis
Sacha Baron CohenAbbie Hoffman
Jeremy StrongJerry Rubin
John Carroll LynchDavid Dellinger
Yahya Abdul-Mateen IIBobby Seale
Mark RylanceWilliam Kunstler
Joseph Gordon-LevittRichard Schultz
Ben ShenkmanLeonard Weinglass
J.C. MacKenzieThomas Foran
Frank LangellaJudge Julius Hoffman
Danny FlahertyJohn Froines
Noah RobbinsLee Weiner
John DomanJohn Mitchell
Michael KeatonRamsey Clark

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