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John Travolta leads an all-star cast (including Oscar-winners Emma Thompson, Kathy Bates and Billy Bob Thornton) on a wild race to the presidency in this savagely funny comedy. Jack Stanton (Travolta) is a virtually unknown Southern governor on a quest for the White House with his strong, savvy and equally ambitious wife, Susan (Thompson). Running against the odds, the Stantons need all the help they can get from their extremely colorful political team. Together, they take off on a hilarious, heart-wrenching and ultimately history-making roller coaster ride to the top.
Based on the novel by Anonymous (a.k.a. political reporter Joe Klein) and released when the Monica Lewinsky scandal was in full swing, Primary Colors may have been a case of too much, too soon for many moviegoers, who preferred the real-life Clinton crisis over the movie's thinly disguised "Clintonesque" comedy. The general public felt that the film was exploiting the president's indiscretions, and as a result one of the most critically acclaimed movies of 1998 was a box-office disappointment. But when considered apart from the Clinton scandals and judged on its own considerable merits, this superb comedy-drama provides an illuminating, insightful, and frequently hilarious look at the harsh realities of presidential politics. John Travolta stars as Jack Stanton, a presidential hopeful whose campaign is challenged by dual dilemmas: how to squelch a scandal involving the candidate's alleged sex with an underage girl, and how to handle information that could potentially ruin Stanton's opponent (superbly played by Larry Hagman). Stanton's wife (Emma Thompson) stands by her man despite awareness of his infidelities, but his loyal campaign planners (played by Billy Bob Thornton, Maura Tierney, and promising newcomer Adrian Lester) experience a crisis of conscience. So does one of the Stantons' oldest friends (Kathy Bates, in an Oscar-nominated role), whose sense of betrayal and lost idealism proves too much to bear. Masterfully adapted by director Mike Nichols and his former-comedy-partner-turned-screenwriter, Elaine May, Primary Colors plays like a sophisticated comedy with loads of memorable scenes and dialogue, but it sneaks up on you with devastating dramatic impact. Anchored by Travolta's superb performance (which is reminiscent of Clinton without being a cheap impersonation), the movie presents a story of great moral complexity and leaves viewers to contemplate their own reactions to the volatile and ethically complicated game of modern politics. --Jeff Shannon
- Aspect Ratio : 2.35:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medR R (Restricted)
- Product Dimensions : 7.5 x 5.38 x 0.6 inches; 4 Ounces
- Item model number : MHV61020283DVD
- Director : Mike Nichols
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
- Run time : 2 hours and 24 minutes
- Release date : September 8, 1998
- Actors : John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Adrian Lester
- Dubbed: : French
- Subtitles: : English, Spanish
- Producers : Mike Nichols
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Unqualified (DTS ES 6.1)
- Studio : Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
- ASIN : 0783227973
- Writers : Elaine May
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #49,232 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Yes, he was human, but he genuinely wanted to do good and we vilified him for it like we do all genuinely good people who don't keep a low profile (or we just kill them, like John Lennon, the Kennedys, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, etcetera). Why is it that we don't seem to have a problem with the crooks in high places, is it because we identify more with dishonest people and compare poorly to the honest ones, or because we wish we had what they have no matter how ill-gotten it is?
This movie shows how hard it is for anybody to get into office whether they're good or not; how you have to play hardball if you really want to make it. Yes, it has some funny parts, as does life, but it's not really a comedy.
The first half of the movie covers the struggle of Governor Jack Stanton (John Travolta) who is obviously Clinton to break into the Democratic primaries against a slew of better known contenders. His wife Susan Stanton (Emma Thompson) who is Hilary Clinton is driven by a sense of making history. They hire Henry Burton (Adrian Lester) to be their campaign manager and have other advisers such as Richard (Billy Bob Thornton) and Daisy (Maura Tierney).
The middle of the film deals with how the campaign will face Stanton’s personal history. The biggest is the claim that he slept with his wife’s hairdresser and she had tapes of their conversations, which was based upon the real life Gennifer Flowers scandal who had real tapes. The campaign decides to hire an old friend Libby Holden (Kathy Bates) to protect Stanton from these types of stories. There’s a second scandal as well that feels like it was just thrown in and not very well thought out.
The last part is about whether Stanton will go negative himself when faced with a formidable candidate former Governor Fred Pickering (Larry Hagman) who appears like he will win the Democratic nomination for president. The movie poses the question about what kind of candidate did Stanton want to become. Would he be just like everyone else and tear down his opponents or would he try to stay positive?
The movie does a good job talking about American politics even though there are parts that are overdone.
Top reviews from other countries
They are however surrounded by a strong cast who are a pleasure to watch; Larry Hagman, Billy Bob Thornton, and Caroline Aaron in particular are superb in capturing their characters, as is Kathy Bates who gets a wonderful role with some marvellous dialogue and dominates every scene she is in.
It feels real. Politics as seen by the True Believers and the hired guns, from the inside, but with all the dull boring bits left out.
I feel that if there had been a bit more time, this film could have been a real classic. It's a good script and the film is quite well made, but I can't give 5*s because it does lose momentum towards the end. Still, it has a few giggles and is worth a buy.
So close to the Clintons it can only be based on their story.
Travolta is a bit cheesy but Emma Thomson is, well Emma Thomson and that is always a good thing in my opinion.
A great story and defiantly recommend