The high-stakes world of Seattle politics gets the big screen treatment with Grassroots. I'd be lying if I said it was a movie only a Seattleite could love, because Grassroots is a well-acted and entertaining drama - albeit one that fades in the home stretch.
Joel David Moore delivers a charged performance as Grant Cogswell, an underdog who decides to run for Seattle City Council due to his passionate support for a new monorail system. Cogswell's personality wavers precariously between being a driven advocate and extremely neurotic, and Moore plays the part superbly. For an actor who has primarily been relegated to supporting roles, Grassroots serves as a perfect platform to show Moore's range.
Speaking of range, Jason Biggs, who stars as Cogswell's friend-turned-campaign manager, also turns in a fine performance, perhaps the best of his career. After American Reunion earlier this year and now Grassroots, Biggs has shown he's still relevant - or relevant for the first time (outside of the American Pie movies, can you recall a single good Jason Biggs movie?).
The movie itself, directed and co-scripted by Stephen Gyllenhaal, is a well-written and fast-paced drama that captures the essence of local politics while keeping the focus on the character. Cogswell is especially interesting, but Gyllenhaal and his collaborators surround the candidate with a variety of interesting individuals. Unfortunately, Grassroots gets distracted by an unnecessary romantic subplot that remains as predictable as they come; simultaneously, the movie loses its color in the third act, reverting to standard will-they-won't-they storytelling that fails to take advantage of what made the movie so good in the first place.
Grassroots is a fine little movie with strong performances and a fun, energetic story. The third act is unfortunately too routine for its own good, but the movie is worth seeing. Even if you don't live in Seattle.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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