SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU

"Barack Woos Michelle"

Quality:
Content: -1 Discretion advised for older children.

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What You Need To Know:

SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU opens in 1989 with Barack Obama and his future wife, Michelle Robinson, getting ready for an afternoon meeting. Barack thinks it is a first date, but Michelle thinks he’s just invited her to attend a community meeting in a black neighborhood. What Barack hasn’t told Michelle, however, is that the meeting isn’t scheduled for another four hours after Michelle arranged for him to pick her up. Barack uses the time to woo Michelle, but she resists. However, although she’s at first upset with Barack, her defenses against him start to fall.

Though it’s a bit slow, SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU is a genial, light romantic drama with some humorous moments. The two leads, Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter, turn in appealing performances. The movie isn’t stridently political, though it clearly sides with Obama’s liberal politics while making Barack and Michelle as appealing as possible. Ironically, however, Barack’s character sometimes comes across as deceitful and condescending, revealing a man suffering some emotional, psychological baggage. So, discerning viewers may indeed wonder if SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU is a Pro-Obama movie or an Anti-Obama movie.

Content:

(Ro, PC, L, V, A, D, M) Light Romantic, liberal worldview with a politically correct scene featuring a rich, clueless white guy, a lawyer, but male protagonist condescendingly and patronizingly tells the man what he wants to hear, which comes across as rather mean and disingenuous; one “f” word, one “d” word and a light profanity; scene from a movie shows police officer applying a choke hold on black man, which kills him, and another character throws a trash can through a shop window; no sexual content, just a kiss; no nudity; light alcohol use in one scene; man smokes a lot; and, male protagonist deceives woman about the timing of their “date” to give himself time to woo her and overcome her resistance to dating him, a character says, “God helps those who helps themselves,” and male protagonist disingenuously lies to rich white racist to humor him.

More Detail:

SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU is a light romantic drama about President Barack Obama’s first date with his future wife, Michelle, when she ran a legal intern program in Chicago of which Obama was a part. Though a bit slow, SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU is well done, with some entertaining moments, but it unintentionally exposes Pres. Obama as kind of a deceitful, condescending person suffering some emotional, psychological baggage. This subtext probably will escape those who think Obama is wonderful.

The movie opens in 1989 with Barack Obama and his future wife, Michelle Robinson, getting ready for an afternoon meeting with one another. Barack thinks of it as a first date, but Michelle thinks he’s just invited her to attend a community meeting in a black neighborhood. What Barack hasn’t told Michelle, however, is that the meeting isn’t scheduled for another four hours after Michelle arranged for him to pick her up.

Barack uses the time to woo Michelle, but she keeps resisting because it doesn’t look good for a woman in her position to be dating an intern. However, although she’s at first upset with Barack, her defenses against him start to erode.

Of course, at the community meeting, which has been set up to develop a strategy to convince the city council to fund a new community center, Barack is asked to speak. He gives a rousing speech to the attendees that they have to find out what they can give the city council in return for their support. By developing a “mutual interest” among different groups, Barack believes the community will get its community center sooner rather than later.

After the meeting, Barack convinces Michelle to go with him to see Spike Lee’s new controversial movie about race relations, DO THE RIGHT THING. The movie turns out to be a powerful experience, but after the movie, they run into one of their law firm’s white legal partners. Michelle gets upset when Barack doesn’t dispel the man’s notion that he and Michelle are out on a date.

So, the question becomes, how can Barack win back her heart before their “date” ends?

Though it’s a bit slow, SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU is a genial, light romantic drama with some humorous moments. The two leads, Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter, turn in appealing performances, though Parker is too dark to play Barack. The movie isn’t stridently political, though it clearly sides with Obama’s left-oriented politics while making Barack and Michelle as appealing as possible. In fact, the Barack in this movie resembles the Barack Obama from the 2004 Democratic Convention, when Obama sounded like someone who wanted to unify the country apart from the same old ideological labels. Of course, Americans who’ve endured eight years of a divisive Obama administration may very well ask themselves after watching SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU, “Where did THAT guy go???”

Be that as it may, the movie’s story ironically, and unintentionally, seems to show why exactly Barack Obama hasn’t lived up to the potential that he seemed to express in 2004. Thus, for example, the movie’s plot actually shows that Obama is a deceitful, condescending guy with some big underlying emotional problems, including more than a little resentment against “The Man.” So, when the white law firm partner says he doesn’t understand the point of the ending of Spike Lee’s movie, Barack gives a condescending, deceitful answer to humor the guy. As a result, Barack’s reply comes off as a smug, smarmy, patronizing response. In fact, the Barack character’s response seems to display a mean-spirited, disingenuous resentment on the part of the filmmakers behind this movie, if not on part of the President himself..

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