• Stephen Gyllenhaal
  • 2012

Sadly for Jason Biggs, it’s going to be a while before he’s not known to most of the world as that guy who had sex with an apple pie. But if he keeps plugging away with quirky political comedies like Grassroots, he could one day shake off the mantle of warm desert enthusiast. (And if he stops appearing in American Pie sequels, that would undoubtedly help too).

Grassroots is based on the story of the 2001 Seattle council elections, in which Grant Cogswell, (Joel David Moore) with a _Simpsons_-esque manifesto of monorail travel for all, tried to take on the popular incumbent mayor, with few giving him any chance of success. His campaign manager Phil Campbell (Jason Biggs) wrote a book about the whole experience, and director Stephen Gyllenhaal (father of Maggie and Jake) has turned it into a film.

getting anywhere near enough votes is going to require an election campaign with a difference.

Grant Cogswell is an enthusiastic, well-meaning, left-leaning resident of Seattle who has a vision. A vision that the answer to the city’s road gridlock is development of the much under-used electric monorail. So he ropes in recently fired journalist and friend Phil Campbell to run his election campaign and help spread the word. Who occasionally dresses up as a polar bear in order to achieve this. However, the current Mayor is in good standing with the voting population, and getting anywhere near enough votes is going to require an election campaign with a difference.

That difference comes in the form of the support he receives from the city’s younger demographic, which he harnesses by drumming up support on college campuses and holding rallies in local nightclubs, almost as a headline act, supported by local bands or a particularly intense DJ.

It’s a low-budget, well shot, political comedy with a good heart, and it tells an endearing story, but it gets unnecessarily lost in the clichéd subplot of campaign manager Phil Campbell’s relationship issues. It’s the old choose your job or your loved one situation that rears its head in so many films of this type. Still, there are enough laughs, especially with the three young, overzealous volunteers and Grant Cogswell devotees, to prevent the onset of mawkishness.

Grassroots is out in UK cinemas 9th November

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