“2000 Mules:” Exit Briskly

Putting business before pleasure, I made Tom Cruise wait, until I found Dinesh D’Souza’s “2000 Mules.”

I’ve spent several decades in Talk Radio, advising stations and on-air hosts, lobbing tips like “Take your audience to the movies,” in my Talkers magazine review of D’Souza’s 2014 “America: Imagine the World Without Her.” It warned-against a President Hillary Clinton (“Hillary figured it out, Obama is carrying it out”). And I wrote-up his earlier “2016 Obama’s America,” a grim foreshadow of what, by 2016, America would become, if the president won a second term.

Spoiler Alert: D’Souza now concludes “We cannot simply move-on…”
…after 90 minutes of security-camera-looking footage of ballot drop boxes, slo-mo close-up cinematic camera footage of actors in hoodies stuffing envelopes into backpacks, dots-on-maps charting wireless phone pings, and – as always – D’Souza voicing-over footage of himself (often his profile) wandering around Washington at off hours, gazing, thoughtfully, at buildings.

I’ll leave the fact-checking to the fact-checkers, easily Googled. Reuters’ granular accounting is a good read.

Premiere at Mar-a-Lago
As “2000 Mules” debuted, Salem Media PR pronounced it “the most successful political documentary in a decade,” claiming a quick million views “available for download and DVD purchase” from co-producer Salem Media, several of whose Conservative pundits gather in a clubby den setting. In the first round-robin, lots of skeptical chin-scratching and furrowed brows. Second-go-round, after evidence presented, they took turns gasping.

Appeal to theater-goers was tough to gauge from my experience. At 71 I seemed to be the youngest of eleven attending the matinee I found (most local theater showings are at 10PM).

We choose to believe what-we-choose-to-believe.
Anyone who works in Talk Radio knows that. “Rigged Election” will always ring-true to many; and as my 10 fellow movie-goers exited after repetitive video of depicted surveillance, I found out just HOW dug-in Trump’s tribe is.

The day before, one of my clients had some Email issues, and didn’t receive several items I had sent. Just before I entered the theater, we swapped messages successfully, and I re-sent. As the video before the movie asks, I turned off my phone. Then, the very moment the credits rolled, your responsive consultant stepped out of the auditorium to check whether my Emails had bounced-back again.

Good News/Bad News
The Emails went through. But as others exited the theater, and saw me with iPhone in-hand, muttering escalated to grumbling. “That man is taking our picture!” and “Let’s take HIS picture!” and “Report this to the manager!”

ON MY PARENTS’ GRAVE, I did not. But D’Souza got what he wanted, paranoia. If his goal was to undermine confidence in free elections, he scored. And I’m not ashamed to admit that this became an adrenalized moment, as I ducked-out the nearest exit, scampered around the building to my car, and burned rubber.

Next day: “Top Gun: Maverick,” MUST-SEE, and spring for IMAX. It has, mathematically, defibrillated movie theaters, something even that recent, long-awaited 007 flick couldn’t. Previews for the final (they promise!) “Jurassic Park” sequel and “Elvis” (co-starring bankable Tom Hanks) were compelling; and there’s an “Avatar” sequel coming.

The torches-and-pitchforks crowd I ducked was probably frustrated if they went looking for that theater manager. If you haven’t been to the movies post-pandemic, you will encounter a changed experience when you return. Kiosks have replaced teenage employees, there are comfy reclining chairs, upgraded food, and BOOZE. Thus my hasty egress.