After enduring the awfulness that was The Purge—an anti-Tea Party screed masquerading as a home invasion flick—I listed five liberal “message movies” that don’t suck. When I posted the link to my Facebook feed, a friend asked, “Do you have a list of five conservative message movies that don’t suck? Not trying to start something, just curious what it would look like.”
Without thinking too much about it, I responded that I’d be hesitant to try to compile such a list because most conservative/libertarian “message movies” are terrible: Atlas Shrugged, An American Carol, The Informers,* and so on. I’m not going to sugarcoat it: we right-of-center types often have a tough time making competent message movies. And we tend to overpraise those few films that do get made because they are morally and/or politically to our liking.
“But utility is a treacherous standard in art,” Stanley Kauffman wrote in 1959 of Stanley Kramer’s anti-nuke issue picture On the Beach. “The film must stand or fall by its effect on the viewer, whether he is American or Russian or Tasmanian; and that effect, as detailed above, is seriously qualified by mediocrities of writing, acting, and direction.”
However, the more I thought about it—and with some help from friends—the more I realized I was being a bit obstinate. There are a few good conservative message movies! Here are five.