Combustible Celluloid
With: Steven Garza, Robert Macdougal, Ben Feinstein, Rene Otero
Written by:
Directed by: Jesse Moss, Amanda McBaine
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some strong language, and thematic elements
Running Time: 109
Date: 08/14/2020

Boys State (2020)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Voter Neurons

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Debuting on Apple TV+, the documentary Boys State is a most entertaining and revealing peek into the early days of what could be the future of American politics.

It takes place at an annual summer program sponsored by The American Legion — the girls have their own, separate program — wherein six hundred participants are separated into two political parties, the Nationalists and the Federalists, and tasked to create their own government.

Certain teens will decide to run for governor, which is the highest elected office in the program.

Co-directed by Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss — who worked together on the acclaimed 2014 doc The OvernightersBoys State was filmed in Texas, in 2018, where the majority of the participants are largely right-leaning.

Many of the debates center around abortion and gun control, and pro-life and pro-gun stances are usually met with hearty whoops from the crowd. One left-leaning candidate privately admits that he decided to lie to get votes.

Another, Steven Garza, who was born to immigrant parents, shows a natural openness when speaking, forgoing showboating with his own maturity and impressive wisdom. He's arguably the hero of the picture.

But we also have Ben and Rene, who become the competing party chairpeople; African American Rene is brash and sassy, effectively putting down an impeachment attempt, while the outgoing Ben is survivor of meningitis and an amputee.

The must-see film leads up to the final election results, and these perhaps say quite a bit more about the state of America than expected.

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