It's not uncommon to hear people discussing -- or complaining about -- the ways in which Hollywood celebrities are involved in politics, whether they're airing their opinions during a concert or speaking in public on behalf of a politician. Barry Levinson (Diner, Good Morning Vietnam) thought this was an interesting enough topic to address in his documentary Poliwood, which focuses on the 2008 national Democratic and Republican conventions. Unfortunately, the documentary shows us little that we haven't already seen, and tends to preach to the converted.
Poliwood is subtitled "a Barry Levinson film essay," which signals us that this will be a more personal style of documentary. Levinson opens the movie with shots from his 1990 feature film Avalon and uses this footage to discuss the ways American lives have changed because of television. His focus is on the Creative Coalition, a non-partisan organization of celebrities that focuses on issues such as arts education. The documentary shifts to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, where Creative Coalition members such as Anne Hathaway, Tim Daly, and Ellen Burstyn talk about how they include politics in their lives. It's especially surreal to see Richard Schiff at the convention after his role on The West Wing -- in one scene, someone from the Clinton administration walks up to him and says "You played me!" -- but Schiff handles it all with good humor.