Friday, September 27, 2013


In connection with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, opening today, is my list, on Topless Robot, of the Top 20 Bizarre Anthropomorphic Food Characters.

Also opening in the Valley today, at Harkins Camelview in Scottsdale, is Inequality for All. Like An Inconvenient Truth or last year’s Electoral Dysfunction, it’s a folksy, easy-to-take, indeed highly enjoyable documentary about a blood-boiling subject—climate change in the case of Truth, voter suppression in the case of Dysfunction, and income inequality in the case of the current film.

Inequality for All follows Robert Reich, Clinton-administration Labor Secretary (he also served in the Ford and Carter administrations) as he scoots around in his Mini Cooper, stopping to give lectures to rapt UC Berkeley students, discussing this country’s preposterous income gap on TV talk shows, and basically spouting off to anyone who will listen about the desperate need to shore up the middle class. “Trickle down” must be replaced, he insists, with a “middle out” model. The director, Jacob Kornbluth, also shows us interviews with the people Reich is talking about—people trying to raise families while working 70-hour weeks, with less than a hundred bucks in the bank.

Reich has always been a charming fellow, leading with self-conscious jokes about his diminutive stature before explaining economic concepts in ways that even a thickhead like me can grasp (sort of). He’s an unassuming, unpretentious populist, and he gives the impression of genuinely giving a shit. None of the ideas he presents here are controversial to anyone except, on one end, maybe an Ayn Rand goon, and on the other end those lefties who think he’s far too tame, that it’s time to reintroduce the guillotine.

Thus the ripest comedy in Inequality for All comes from hearing moderate, centrist little Robert Reich branded a communist and a Marxist by the Fox News clowns. There are those of us who might wish him a bit more incendiary on his subject, a bit closer to the radical they describe. But if he was less apologetic and unthreatening he’d probably lose his most useful ability—explaining to us wage slaves how we help keep ourselves enslaved. The trouble, as usual with this sort of movie, is—who will see it, that doesn’t already agree with it?

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