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With the transformation of Al Franken from comedian to activist, Nick Doob and Chris Hegedus stumbled onto a good subject, but in the documentary Al Franken: God Spoke, they stumble around in it. Franken is a brilliant original—a kvetchy prankster who can suddenly marshal enough actual facts to leave his opponents sputtering impotently, like stooges in a Marx Brothers movie. (The film is worth seeing for footage of Bill O’Reilly seeking sympathy from Ann Coulter, who makes maternal noises with a mischievous glint in her eye.) The directors spend too much time with Franken at the radio mike, and they never find the most interesting part of the story: how a guiding creative force of the fundamentally apolitical Saturday Night Live was finally moved to commit to something. They get everything but the epiphany.

The Black Dahlia
Directed by Brian de Palma. Universal. R.

Hollywoodland
Directed by Allen Coulter. Focus Features. R.

Al Franken: God Spoke
Directed by Nick Doob and Chris Hegedus. Balcony Releasing. Not Rated.

E-mail: filmcritic@newyorkmag.com.


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