Brother, Can You Spare a Dollar?
Film Review by Kam Williams
Depression Retrospective Compares America of Thirties to the U.S. Today
People had it a lot harder and handled their lot in life a lot better during the Great Depression than folks do during the current recession, at least that’s the proposition put forth ad nauseam by Thom Hoffman, the director/narrator of Brother, Can You Spare a Dollar. And why might that be the case? Back in the Thirties, safety nets like Medicare and Social Security didn’t exist, so everyone had to man up, lean on each other’s shoulders, and figure a way to survive without any help from the government.
By comparison, Hoffman indicts today’s U.S. citizenry for being self-indulgent, spoiled consumers with an unquenchable thirst for frivolous luxuries. In the process he places the so-called Greatest Generation up on a pedestal while indicting the materialist Me Generation for the degeneration of America into a vast wasteland on the verge of collapse marked by everything from the disintegration of the family to the gluttonous behavior of the 1%ers on Wall Street.
While well-intentioned and at times even thought-provoking, the picture is unfortunately too simplistic and sloppily slapped together to amount to much more than the unstructured musings of a curmudgeon nostalgic for a bygone era when the jobless had to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps instead of being able to turn to Uncle Sam for food stamps and unemployment checks.
Truth be told, it’s gonna take a lot more than a little tough love and pounding the pavement to get this country's economy righted.
Brother, can you spare me the aggravating agit-propaganda?
Fair (1 star)
Running time: 70 minutes
Distributor: Thom Hoffman Productions
To see a trailer for Brother, Can You Spare a Dollar, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAtMtapUG-s