The Oath

by Michael  Cox
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jan 8, 2019
The Oath

"The Oath" begins with an intriguing conflict: Every U. S. citizen has been asked to sign a loyalty oath to the president (no matter how loony that president may be). With this, every American can express his or her individual patriotism in one mass pledge. And they can each earn some tax credits in the process. The differences of opinion that this entreaty generates lead to a suspense-filled altercation in one suburban household. But considering the rich setup this movie offers, its anticlimactic ending disappoints.

Left-leaning news junkie Chris (Ike Barinholtz) and his more even-tempered wife Kai (Tiffany Haddish) host Thanksgiving this year with one caveat, "No talking about politics during dinner." But the nation is so divided by the president's loyalty oath that riots are breaking out around the country. The subject is bound to come up.

Of course, Chris' parents (Nora Dunn and Jon Barinholtz) support the president, but his sister (Carrie Brownstein) seems to be on his side. And there's no talking to his ultra-conservative brother Hank, especially since Chris has gotten off on the wrong foot with Hank's opinionated new girlfriend (Meredith Hagner).

As if the family fighting isn't enough, two federal agents (John Cho and Billy Magnussen) show up with the intent of strong-arming Chris into signing the oath. When he asks them to leave they refuse... and that's when the shit gets real.

This film offers some hope as a low-budget political satire, and it certainly has its witty moments, but the even-handed satire morphs into something else, a serious, high-stakes, life-or-death confrontation, as a right-wing bag of nuts is introduced.

The film ends in an unsatisfying deus ex machina, none of the story's fundamental questions are answered, and the even more intriguing questions that could have been developed are never even asked, like, "Can you expect the law to protect your rights if the nation creating the law has fundamentally lost its mind?"

The special features on this DVD aren't really an incentive. The deleted scenes offer no additional humor or insight into the many questions that are left unanswered at the end of the movie. And two behind-the-scenes featurettes are just short advertisements.


"The Oath"
DVD
$19.95
www.lionsgate.com/movies/

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