Going Upriver: The Long Road of John Kerry

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating:Rated PG-13 for disturbing images of war and some dialogue 
Directed By:George Butler 

Final Grade: 

For some reason Every time I turn around there is another Documentary this year. I’m sure there are just as many any other year, but this year and last year the mainstream documentary has caught on. America has learned that they can actually * Gasp * learn something from a movie and still be entertained. Like him or hate him Filmmaker Michael Moore may be partially to blame with America’s growing interest with the Documentary.

After the successes of Bowling for Columbine, The Fog Of War, Fahrenheit 9/11, Winged Migration and Supersize Me over the last few years yet another documentary is being pedaled to mainstream audiences. Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry, is a little documentary about John Kerry’s experiences in Vietnam and what he helped do for his fellow Vietnam Vets once he returned home from the conflict.

I actually enjoyed this film and I find it sad that most people probably saw the title and thought one of two things. Either 1. That is got to be some John Kerry Propaganda on the big screen, I hate politicians or 2. That is the stupidest title in the world. The fact of the matter is it really is neither of those things. (Although I must admit, the title is a trifle bit big) The film had literally no exposure and all of a sudden at the last minute it was tossed out. Suddenly a few ads popped up here and there in newspapers and Democrats started pushing people into the theaters to see it. It’s lack of exposure attributed to the audience’s lack of knowledge about the film and ultimately kills the films success.

I enjoyed this film a lot, and for those of you who thought this was a propaganda film, you are wrong. The film never once mentions the 2004 election or even the fact that John Kerry is running for President. It simply focuses on John’s Leadership in Vietnam, and how he won his distinguished medals of honor. Upon returning home and seeing how America turned their back on their soldiers, John helped organize a rally in Washington and got to speak in front of government officials on a live television broadcast. If nothing else in the film really trips your trigger, the speech Kerry gives at his young age Is amazing, and I only hope that I am that eloquent of a speaker at that age.

If I had to find some downsides to this film, I would have to say the main downfall is its focus. It focuses its attention to an older audience and it may not keep the interest of someone in a younger demographic, the way a Michael Moore film does. The film is primarily for an audience in their late 20’s and above, and really felt as though it was a film for people who really remember the Vietnam conflict. The other downside was timing, which could be seen as both a blessing and a curse. It makes the film look like a shameless plug for Kerry for president, by showcasing his achievements in Vietnam, even though I don’t believe that was the film’s intentions. On the other hand, its success wouldn’t be as great as it is if people were not tied up in the political/election mumbo jumbo stuff going on around us today.

In the end, I really enjoyed this documentary and not because it as many of you already know, I am casting my Vote for John Kerry. The fact of the matter was I was entertained, the story moved fast and I actually had fun learning more about someone. The film felt rather unbiased, wasn’t shoving the election down my throat and gave me a chance to learn a little more about our potential next president. Go check it out and enjoy it regardless of your political stances, you just might learn a thing or two. 

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