This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The idea that Roseanne Barr, the irascible comedian and TV star, would run for president of these here United States sounds at first blush like a joke.
But as seen in the documentary "Roseanne For President!," which chronicles Barr's 2012 third-party campaign for the nation's highest office, she's more serious about this country's problems than some of the quote-unquote "real" politicians who run.
"I'm the only serious comedian in the race," Barr says at one point to director Eric Weinrib's camera. "These guys are bad comics they wouldn't get on a Monday-night amateur night."
As Weinrib points out through judicious use of clips from Barr's comedy career, the issues of the working class have always been on her mind. Look at her early stand-up, where she talked about life as a housewife (or, as she preferred, "domestic goddess") or consider her top-rated sitcom, "Roseanne," where she tackled poverty, paying the bills, abortion rights and gay rights (with Barr and Mariel Hemingway performing network TV's first lesbian kiss).
So it actually makes sense when Barr, urged by former Rep. Cynthia McKinney and spurred by her friend Michael Moore, files the papers to run for the nomination of the Green Party.
Weinrib interviews Barr's siblings and her mother, who talk about her upbringing in Salt Lake City, a Jew surrounded by Mormons. Barr's grandparents, her brother Ben-David recalls, ran an apartment building that was home to Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors so Roseanne met people who explained why they had numbers tattooed on their arms.
The movie follows Barr's eager-beaver campaign manager, Farheen Kareem, as she travels to Green Party state conventions, trying to persuade skeptical voters to support Barr who usually delivers her campaign speeches via Skype from her home in Hawaii. At every stop, Kareem runs into the Greens' more established candidate, Jill Stein, and Barr soon discovers that battling party insiders isn't just a game played by Democrats and Republicans.
Weinrib does a solid job following every twist in the campaign trail, but the heart of "Roseanne For President!" is in the quiet moments with Barr at home, talking to her sax-playing boyfriend, John Argent, about what she thinks America should do to live up to its lofty ideals. In those unadorned moments, it becomes clear that Barr's campaign was no publicity stunt, but a genuine calling for a woman who truly loves her country.
'Roseanne For President!'
The no-joke campaign of Roseanne Barr is chronicled in this documentary, shining a light at the seldom-seen corners of third-party politics.
Where • Tower Theatre.
When • Opens Friday, July 29.
Rating • Not rated, but probably R for strong language.
Running time • 96 minutes.
Special event • Roseanne Barr will appear in person after the 7 p.m. screening on Saturday, July 30.