Foreign Policy Blogs

Spinning Boris (2002)

This movie is disappointing.
Which is too bad, because its premise is intriguing: three American political consultants (i.e., spin doctors) are hired to help Russian President Boris Yeltsin with his campaign in 1996.
While the comedy is fictional, it is based on a true story.
The team, made up of George Gorton, Dick Dresner, and Joe Shumate, find the Byzantine way of doing things alive and well in Russia. Much of the first part of the movie deals with the consultants confused about appropriate behavior.
When they step off the plane, Yeltsin’s campaign is tanking, with only 6 percent of the populace supporting him and only a few months before the election.
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While they struggle with how to aid Yeltsin’s campaign, there is a lot of East meets West exchange with each side learning a thing or two.
The film just never gets off the ground. The funny parts are anything but and the movie lurches from one scene to the next.


And, it’s not as if this Showtime effort doesn’t have star power: Jeff Goldblum, Anthony Lapaglia, and Liev Schreiber play the trio. But even they can’t save this picture from its slow, laborious pace and uneven direction.
Perhaps one thing that can be salvaged from this DVD is the interviews with the three consultants which is found in the bonus features. It is apparent that the story would have been better told as a documentary than as a comedy.
“Spinning Boris” is available for rent.
Murphy can be reached at: [email protected]



Sean Patrick Murphy

Sean Patrick Murphy is a graduate of Bennington College, where he majored in politics and Latin American literature. He has worked for Current History magazine, Physicians for Human Rights, and Citizens for Global Solutions (formerly the World Federalist Association). He lives outside Philadelphia.

Areas of Focus:
Cinematography; Independent Films; Documentary;