It's an interesting thesis with which filmmaker Jesse Moss builds his fascinating documentary Rated "R": Republicans in Hollywood – the general perception of Tinseltown being a flamingly liberal bastion of left-wing celebrities, where Republicans are discouraged from espousing their views. Surprising then that Moss manages to unearth some high-profile names that swing more towards the right; from the obvious examples (now California Governor Arnold Schwarznegger, "Everybody Loves Raymond" star Patricia Heaton, pundit/comedian Ben Stein) to the perhaps less obvious examples ("Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak, producer Douglas Urbanski, comedian Drew Carey), Moss fashions a brief, surface-skimming doc that positions itself as asking the question "Is it now hip to be young and conservative in modern Hollywood?" and more or less fails to fully answer it.
During the course of his 45-minute, amusingly self-referential film, Moss charts a bifurcated path – he pursues interviews with numerous high-wattage Republican celebs (who, while articulate, don't offer much of substance beyond "It's hard being right-wing in Hollywood") as well as attempting to follow Arnold Schwarzenegger's dramatic pursuit of the California governorship. Splitting his focus tends to undermine Moss' film; I think it would've made a stronger presentation if Moss either tracked Schwarzenegger's ascension to gubernatorial power or delved deeper into the rarely seen Republican side of the notoriously leftist Hollywood – as it stands, there's a little of each, but with 45 minutes, Moss doesn't have nearly enough time to adequately explore both. He attempts to tie them together by insinuating that Schwarzenegger's explosive success as a political candidate now makes it much more fashionable (and acceptable) to be viewed as a Republican in Hollywood but arguably, that's a stretch since many of those interviewed by Moss have been "secret" Republicans long before The Terminator sought the California governorship.
That said, what is offered is entertaining – Moss' selection of interview subjects is surprising, perhaps only because you'll think "Wow, I had no idea (fill in the blank) was a Republican." Let's just say I don't think I've ever heard Vincent Gallo be quite so articulate about a subject as he is here. Overall, Moss tries to juggle two deeply fascinating topics but ends up shortchanging them both.
Rated "R": Republicans in Hollywood is presented in a clean, fairly sharp non-anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer – a mix of sources (video, digital video, TV clips, feature film excerpts) means that the image does have some flaws, but they're inherent in the source material; the newly filmed interviews and other footage is clear and defect-free.
Dolby 2.0 stereo is the only audio option and it's perfectly fine – there's no drop-out or distortion, even in the vintage source material and interview footage.
The disc offers a decent array of supplemental material: three deleted scenes, eight interview outtakes, an audio interview with Moss from NPR's "The Leonard Lopate Show," the film's trailer and a biography for Moss.
Rated "R": Republicans in Hollywood is a well-intentioned, if slightly unfocused, documentary that explores a little-known side of a notoriously liberal profession – political junkies will find much to sink their teeth into. Recommended.