President Barack Obama. President Barack Obama. Nope, still can't get used to it. It's literally too good to be true. I must've died in my sleep and am now having an insane fantasy pumped into my head by the Matrix. Any minute now Salma Hayek is going to float through the door with a tray of biscuits and I'll know the game's up.
Or perhaps I've just come round from a coma. The election took place 10 years ago, and what I've just sat through was actually a Hollywood movie loosely based on real events. And in a bid to appeal to the multiplex crowd, they decided to jettison all semblance of subtlety.
On the one hand, you had Obama (Will Smith in admittedly impressive makeup, although the ears never really convinced). He was practically walking on water. No one's that nice. And pitched against him, the Republican campaign, which was so nakedly horrible it could only have been orchestrated by Skeletor. Nudge-wink comments about "the real America", underhand attempts to link Obama with terrorism, automated robo-calls whispering desperate fibs into the ears of voters ... if Obama's grandmother had died while he was at her bedside in Hawaii, they'd have erected billboards claiming he couldn't be trusted around white women. Jesus, guys, why not just change your name to the Bastard Party and march around in long black capes? Vote for us, we're openly despicable.
The scriptwriters clearly decided to balance the nastiness by introducing some satirical comic relief in the form of Sarah Palin, but she was scarcely plausible either. And they never really nailed her story arc, instead being content to have her wandering through every scene she was in, screeching inept banalities like a rightwing version of Phoebe from Friends. And what was with the whole Joe the Plumber sub-plot? I mean, c'mon, they invited him on tour and everything. As if. In the real world, no one would've bought that for a second. That's precisely the sort of thing that breaks the all-important suspension of disbelief. It didn't help that the guy they cast to play him, Michael Chiklis, is instantly recognisable from his leading role as the corrupt, brutal cop Vic Mackey in the hit TV series The Shield.
And the ending was far too saccharine. Dancing in the streets? Tears of joy around the globe? Oh please. I give it four out of 10. A rental at best.