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The life of activist and radical Abbie Hoffman and his battles for social justice. His life is a chronical of music and politics that helped to define the sixties and seventies.
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Vincent D'Onofrio is one of our most aggressively commanding actors, and he makes a good choice to impersonate Yippie activist Abbie Hoffman. All loping, shambly charm and occasional frenzied explosiveness, D'Onofrio's Hoffman is close enough to the real thing that, just like the Yippies themselves, he appears magnetic and forceful to the already converted, but a fraudulent, egomaniacal hambone to everyone else. (Even those unimpressed by D'Onofrio's indulgences can only admire the simmering commitment Janeane Garofalo brings to the role of his wife Anita.) Which is more than you can say for Robert Greenwald's unfocused hagiography, which should manage to pull off the rare feat of displeasing anyone no matter what their opinions of Hoffman. Racing through the years with the greatest-hits flippancy toward a life unfortunately all too familiar from movie bios (see Abbie try to levitate the Pentagon! Nominate a pig for President! Battle loneliness and depression while on the run from the cops!), Steal this Movie plays more like a lecture than a happening. Even the most obvious points are hammered home with the type of bone-headed didacticism that does more to grate on an audience than win it over. Lest we miss a thing, there are occasional voice-overs by a badly impersonated Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover to explain exactly what's going on. The film plays with all manner of actual footage and FBI surveillance photography, but the mix of styles is more chaos than anarchy; the boxy, amateurish camera work drains all possible giddiness from even the most rapturously absurd of Hoffman's pranks. Straining with clumsy urgency to capture the tenor of its subject, Steal This Movie gets the self-righteousness down but misses out on the passion, and the liberating spark of play. --Bruce Reid
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