In 2012, author-turned-filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza caught some kind of freakish right-wing lightning in a bottle when his debut documentary “2016: Obama’s America” became the fourth highest-grossing documentary ever released in the U.S. It was a box-office victory championed by conservative commentators around the U.S., and has now spawned a sequel, titled “America: Imagine the World Without Her,” which opened to solid numbers last weekend in Houston and Atlanta ($39,000 on three screens) and opens wider over the 4th of July holiday. But unlike “Obama’s America,” don’t expect “America” to take the country by storm. With horrid reviews and an overbearing and dull first trailer, the new movie will likely fizzle quickly after an initial highly touted wide release. And if it doesn’t, God help us.
Quality filmmaking has never exactly driven ticket sales in the past, but it’s difficult to imagine scores of teeming church-goers flocking to this patriotic drivel and overt anti-liberal rhetoric as they did to “Passion of the Christ.” I could be wrong, of course. Perhaps Tea Party fanatics would rather watch force-fed agit-prop rather than the latest “Transformers” explosion-porn, but I don’t think so. Last year’s “Atlas Shrugged,” a similarly biased triumphant view of American capitalism, maxed out at around $3.3 million at the box office.
From a lefty perspective, it’s funny to watch the third trailer of the film and hear figures like Noam Chomsky respond to D’Souza’s obvious anti-American baiting questions. When Chomsky says things like, “Private capital, unless it’s constrained in some fashion, is extremely destructive” and “There’s a reason why most of the world regards the United States as a predatory colonial power,” perhaps the film’s conservative audiences may receive a welcome alternative opinion that opens their minds. Who knows: Maybe D’Souza’s film could have unintended consequences, converting religious audiences to the dangers of deregulated capitalism, because, after all, like any sequel in a successful franchise, isn’t that what “America: Imagine the World Without Her” is for: to make money.