'Red Dawn' Then and Now: Critics Recoil at Pro-America, Anti-Communism Messages

'Red Dawn' Then and Now: Critics Recoil at Pro-America, Anti-Communism Messages

The original “Red Dawn” hardly won over film critics, and understandably so.

It’s considered a cult classic today, but “Red Dawn” served up plenty of cheese along with its stirring story of young Americans battling against a Communist invasion. The film’s critical drubbing was about more than just storytelling hiccups, says National Review contributor John J. Miller.

“Better dead than Red Dawn,” sneered the Washington Post‘s Rita Kempley, who called the film “sick and silly.” Janet Maslin of the New York Times labeled it “rabidly inflammatory,” “incorrigibly gung-ho,” and “a virulently alarmist fable.” Bob Thomas of the Associated Press condemned its “bathos” as “unrelenting.” Perhaps these were the honest assessments of dispassionate reviewers….

The makers of Red Dawn, complained Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times, “spent too much time playing to the rabid anti-Commies.” You know: The movie must be awful because those icky conservatives approve of it. Even today, many liberals resort to knee-jerk denunciations: “Its guiding ideology is actually fascism,” wrote David Plotz of Slate in 2008.

That was then. This is the response the “Red Dawn” remake is getting from movie critics.

The Chicago Reader calls it a “Tea Party wet dream.” Time Magazine says “both movies play like hokey advertisements for the National Rifle Association, injected with high school pep rally enthusiasm.”

The Washington Post’s review says the film will be “red meat for tea party patriots,” as if Obama voters would rather allow an invading force take over rather than fight back.

Film.com offers the most over the top reaction, suggesting the remake shouldn’t be on the screen at all.

“Red Dawn” is one of the rare cases where a movie isn’t just poor, it is inadvisable. It is even, perhaps, irresponsible given the current political climate … The unfortunate thing is that some viewers may be naive to think that the movie’s scenario is rooted in some sort of realism. While I like to look down my nose at such rubes just as much as the next guy, perhaps there are some large-ish budget movies that just shouldn’t be made.


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