Ahh, political dramas. Because this is my forte, right? I’m smart enough to wrap my mind around these things, right?!
Hehe, no! I’m most certainly not! Curse you, education, for not being more interesting!
So yeah, I’ve heard the name Ted Kennedy before. And that’s it. Honestly, I don’t even know if it’s Ted Kennedy I’ve heard of. I’m assuming I know of his existence because of John F. Kennedy, likely no relation. *one Google search later* He is the youngest brother of JFK. Education! Yeah, I never paid attention in history class. Boring as hell, man. Anywho, not familiar with the events depicted in this movie.
The story looks like it’s about Ted getting into a car accident, resulting in the accidental death of his lady passenger, causing horrendous political backlash for Ted as there’s cover-ups or manipulation of truths.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Jason Clarke (WINCHESTER , TERMINATOR GENISYS , EVEREST , and upcoming films SERENITY  and FIRST MAN ), Kate Mara (MEGAN LEAVEY , MORGAN , and THE MARTIAN ), Ed Helms (FATHER FIGURES , I DO… UNTIL I DON’T , CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS , and the upcoming TAG ), and Olivia Thirlby (DREDD , JUNO , UNITED 93 , and upcoming films DAMASCUS  and YOU ABOVE ALL ). In support, we have Clancy Brown (THOR: RAGNAROK , WARCRAFT , THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE , THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION , and the upcoming SUPERCON  and SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS 3 ), Bruce Dern (NOSTALGIA , THE HATEFUL EIGHT , THE CAKE EATERS , THE HAUNTING , and upcoming films WHITE BOY RICK  and THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON ), and Jim Gaffigan (CHUCK , 13 GOING ON 30 , and upcoming films SUPER TROOPERS 2  and DUCK DUCK GOOSE ).
Now for the crew. Directing is John Curran, known for stuff I’ve never heard of. Co-writing the screenplay are Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan, both making their screenwriting debut. Congrats to both of you. Composing the score Garth Stevenson, known for stuff I’ve never heard of. The cinematographer is Maryse Alberti, known for COLLATERAL BEAUTY (2016), CREED (2015), and THE VISIT (2015). Finally, the editor is Keith Fraase, known for SONG TO SONG (2017) and KNIGHT OF CUPS (2016).
Overall, I doubt I’m going to like this. Early ratings peg this as not very good, so my guess is that it takes liberties with facts. The best I can hope for in this situation is good acting because I do like some of the cast. I mean, Jason Clarke? Kate Mara? Clancy mother f**king Brown?! Come on, give me some entertaining performances at least! Or just a lot of Clancy Brown. That’ll save the movie enough for me.
This is my honest opinion of: CHAPPAQUIDDICK
Set in Massachusetts, circa 1969. Senator Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) throws a private celebration party with close friends and family, specifically for the Boiler Room Girls, the secretaries who have stood by the Kennedy family during their political careers. Among the girls is Ted’s personal friend and former secretary for Ted’s late brother Bobby, Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara). After some heavy drinking, Ted and Mary Jo go for a drive in his car. After a near run-in with a single patrol officer, Ted winds up driving his car over a bridge and crashing it into a deep pond. Though he survives, Mary Jo perishes. What follows is a series of inconsistent political cover-ups, lies, and manipulations of truth in the name of saving Ted’s career and preserving the Kennedy legacy.
It’s a political drama. Nothing really all that amazing.
The acting is pretty good. Favorites include Helms, who is surprisingly effective in his drama. I usually don’t care for him in his comedies, but he’s almost a scene stealer here. Dern is downright scary as Joseph Kennedy. The man can barely speak, or even move, constantly confined to his wheelchair, but he has a death stare that would make Jason Voorhees piss himself. There’s actually a really great scene where he slaps Ted and tells him that he’ll never be great like John and Bobby were. And who can forget Clancy Brown and his stern douche-baggery? I got enough of him in my movie, so I was pretty happy with that. But those performances are about all that’s good about the movie.
The film greatly hinges on whether or not you find political scandals interesting, which I didn’t in this case. I mean, the ingredients are there. Ted’s almost like a child who barely makes his own decisions and even when he does, he keeps making bad decisions all in the name of maintaining his public image. But for whatever reason, it’s not presented in an interesting way. He bounces too much between feeling guilty about lying and wanting to tell the truth, and maintaining the lies to save his political career. It doesn’t feel balanced enough. There’s no real segue between mental changes. On top of character inconsistencies, the movie has quite a few pointless scenes too. Like there’s an entire scene dedicated to whether or not Ted should wear a neck brace to Mary Jo’s wake. Even if it was an excuse to see a comedic visual of Ted and Joey (Helms) fighting over whether or not to take it off, wrestling on the bed, it also feels insensitive as this is over the death of someone would should be a friend to them. But, yes! Act like children!
Overall, I was mostly bored with this movie. Politics rarely interests me. But I can’t deny that there are some solid performances, even great ones, that help elevate the film. Some scenes work alright, but if they don’t work, they either bore me or don’t make any sense why they’re there. I say if the scandal interests you, then go for it and see what you make of it. But if you’re anything like me and don’t like political movies, then this is an easy pass.
My honest rating for CHAPPAQUIDDICK: a weak 3/5