I always thought Anthony Weiner looked like Screech from Saved by the Bell. It’s incredible to find out he’s actually nuttier than Screech (and Dustin Diamond has gone to prison twice, once for stabbing somebody in a bar).
This is easily the most mesmerizing documentary you’ll see this year, and probably one of the best experiences you’ll have at the theatres. It’s hard to imagine, because just like we all joked about why you’d see Titanic when you already know the ending (and it became the biggest movie ever) — we know the ending of Anthony Weiner. He resigned his House seat after he was caught (and poorly denied) sending pictures of his penis to a woman. Then he ran for mayor of New York City and was winning, and he…whoops, he did it again.
Filmmakers Josh Kriegman and Elyse Stenberg started filming Weiner the day he announced he’d run for mayor. There are a number of things they do well. They stay away from the various puns with his name. Sure, we see Stephen Colbert make a joke about the name he used online — Carlos Danger. And Bill Maher might have said something about his name, but they basically made a mesmerizing film capturing a narcissistic nutball. They surprisingly don’t try to manipulate you into feeling a certain way. For example, I felt he was a pathetic piece of garbage. His wife Huma Abedin came off only looking slightly better. Yet I’m sure others will leave the theatre feeling sorry for him, and especially her; or wishing he would’ve succeeded because they agree with his politics.
A lot of people probably think they know what it’s like for a celebrity dealing with the media during a scandal. We’ve seen enough TMZ and other shows to think we’ve got a feel for what it’s like. Yet when we see Weiner teaming up with his staff, and coaching angry employees on what to say…or planning which door to walk out of, it’s captivating. You don’t realize so much planning is necessary. We watch as his wife seems to drift farther away from him, and he doesn’t seem to get it. Instead of kissing her butt (he does only in front of the camera), he snaps at her; or, he’ll watch a fight he had with a reporter or citizen in a deli, and seems proud of himself. Even when she says it pains her to watch it, he can’t wipe that idiotic smile off his face. He’s just so stupid and egotistical, it’s unbelievable. Truth truly is stranger than fiction.
There are two things I wish the filmmakers would’ve covered, though. Both things could’ve been done briefly, too. A few minutes should’ve been devoted to Weiner’s upbringing. We know nothing about him before his life in politics. And, I think we needed at least one sex therapist or shrink of some kind, to explain why somebody would do such stupid stuff on the internet. Don’t get me wrong, we all know somebody that has. Maybe that’s a friend that lost $10,000 playing poker online, or a girlfriend that found her boyfriend’s dating profile on a website, etc. Yet I wanted to hear from a doctor as to why a guy who, basically threw away a career he was well-paid for and enjoyed…to do it again when he seemingly got a second chance. Is he an addict? It would be like Bill Clinton sleeping with another intern after we all found out about the blue dress. Oh, and speaking of the Clinton’s — since Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is Hillary’s head campaign manager and confidante — this movie couldn’t have come out at a better time. It’s funny to think about the rumors that Hillary supposedly tried talking her into leaving Weiner. Pot….meet the kettle.
Some of the side characters were entertaining, too. We had a fun clip with Jane Lynch. We had Sydney Leathers. If that name doesn’t inspire a chuckle, perhaps the dopey code name Weiner’s security staff gave her, will. It was “Pineapple.” I think it should’ve been “melons.”
There are so many things I wondered while watching this. For example, as the camera stayed on Abedin for a few seconds longer, and we see her disappointment. You wonder why she would stay with such a pathetic loser.
When Weiner starts doing a Rodney Dangerfield impersonation in the car that just doesn’t end…you wonder how insane he might be. He just doesn’t get it. It’s all about him and the attention he can garner.
And the fact that he has the nerve to snap at Abedin, or talk down to her, shows just how crazy she is for staying in that relationship. Even if it’s because they have a child, it’s a decision that will come back to haunt her.
When reporters ask him why he’s not getting help, he flies off the handle. When reporters want to talk about the scandal and not the “issues” he wants to discuss, he gets upset. Why? Doesn’t he realize how the media works? Has he forgotten about the Clinton sex scandals, or Gary Hart?
When he does address the issues, it’s incredible to hear him say he may have sexted “6 to 10 women.” That’s like a guy that’s caught cheating, telling his wife, “It was only once.” I’m guessing it’s more like 25 women, and it’s surprising more of them haven’t come out.
The one that does come out in this, Ms. Leathers, does provide some fun. When she’s on Howard Stern, he convinces her to show up at an event Weiner will be at. I won’t ruin what happens, but you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen.
The humor, the pathos…the self-absorbed man that doesn’t see the trainwreck he’s the conductor of. Maybe he does and just doesn’t care. When the filmmakers ask him why he would let them continue to film, we laugh wondering the same thing. Weiner also asks if he’s going to be more than a punch line. No. No you’re not. And when the documentary comes out, your wife is going to be even more furious. But guess what? If he had the opportunity to be in another one, I’m sure he’d jump at the chance.
There’s never been a more appropriate title for a movie: Weiner.
This gets 4 ½ stars out of 5, and it’s going to end up on my “best of” list at the end of the year.