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POV: Taking On the Kennedys
POV Taking On the Kennedys
Actors: Tom Kemp, Caroline Kennedy, John Kennedy Jr., Patrick Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy
Director: Joshua Seftel
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2005     0hr 52min

When Kevin Vigilante took on Patrick Kennedy, he intended to run a clean race. He was about to get the political education of a lifetime. P.O.V. presents TAKING ON THE KENNEDYS, an acerbic, witty, and revealing look at the...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Tom Kemp, Caroline Kennedy, John Kennedy Jr., Patrick Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy
Director: Joshua Seftel
Creators: Joshua Seftel, Anne Churchman, Dan Melish, Kathy Venzke
Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Politics, Politics
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 01/25/2005
Original Release Date: 05/28/1996
Theatrical Release Date: 05/28/1996
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 0hr 52min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Fascinating documentary
D. Munro | Fresno, CA USA | 06/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"There's a remarkable moment in "Taking on the Kennedys" in which Kevin Vigilante, who's running in 1996 for Congress in Rhode Island against none other than Patrick Kennedy -- yes, one of THOSE Kennedys -- realizes how tough a skin you need in politics. Vigilante first has to beat an opponent in a Republican primary in order to face off against Kennedy, and he's just finished a televised debate with the woman. When he exits the TV station, he remarks in amazement to an aide, "She really HATES me."

It's as if he's finally grasped the fact that pure, unadulterated vitriol can be felt by another human being against you simply because you're running in an election. Perhaps that's the saddest -- and most deeply penetrating -- moment in this brisk little documentary. We have developed a political culture in which campaigns are nasty battles. Negative campaigning is not only expected, it's a test to see if you have the mettle to withstand the tough world of politics. As Vigilante discovers when he squares off in the general election against Kennedy, it isn't enough to run on the "issues." Personality, fund-raising and the ability to play nasty -- not to mention, in his case, the all-consuming question of name recognition -- are all part of the equation.

I was most impressed by how filmmaker Joshua Seftel gained a close and confident access to Vigilante during the campaign. His camera is there at the public events -- when both candidates are hustling for senior-citizen votes at a picnic -- but it's also there for some very private, relevatory moments as Vigilante gets fully immersed in the rough-and-tumble world of politics. If you think running for office is hard, try it when your opponent is waltzing around with one of the most famous political names in the world. It doesn't matter that Patrick Kennedy -- who is amiable but not exactly the brightest bulb in the glittering Kennedy clan -- is a mediocre candidate at best. He's got the name, and he's also got the money to run a blistering campaign. How Vigilante responds to that negativity is a fascinating examination of human nature. And yet one more reason to hit the mute button every time an attack ad is aired on TV."
The Price of Politics
working mom | sunny south | 05/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This film shows how real issues and the more idealistic reasons that one would run for public office are soon left as wreckage on the side of the road to Washington. The Parties don't matter, right and wrong barely matters - winning is what matters.

If you are interested and/or saddened by the sad state of what is called politics today watching this documentary is worth your while. Thankfully all of this is presented with healthy doses of intentional and unintentional humor. All and all an engaging documentary.