Reviewed by Matt Ritchey
If you miss The West Wing and the classic 60’s Mel Brooks films, Holiday Kinnard’s Lincoln 2020 is for you.
Tess Baker (Allie Leonard) feels responsible for Mallory Britton (Janet Chamberlain) losing the 2016 election to… well, an orange-haired President. She’s so desperate that when she gets a call from a German scientist (Dan Torson) who says he’s re-animated Abraham Lincoln (Tim Kopacz), she quickly buys in 100% and runs him as the Democratic candidate. The world, obviously, goes crazy in every way possible over this and Republicans start scrambling to find the only person who could possibly beat the Great Emancipator.
There are some great performances (Kopacz does wonderfully as Honest Abe and Torson is a stand-out in all of his many roles), and the structure is spot-on, keeping a tone of heightened reality with a great midpoint, good Main Character arc with solid low point, funny writing, and an apt theme: “Popularity is the only thing that matters today… and that’s not a good thing.“
However, Lincoln 2020 is a screenplay produced on stage. Structurally, it’s great. But the fast-clip of montages at different news stations and the ten-sentence scenes that work beautifully when filmed and edited begin to bog down the pacing and seem gimmicky rather than filling the important role that they actually play. And while the third act surprise is genius (especially the way it’s handled), some character moments with Lincoln, historically “accurate” or not, feel forced to make things a bit more “hip” and “P.C.”
Still, there are some laugh-out-loud moments, good character arcs, a nice interactive bit that pays off beautifully, and good acting. Kinnard is clearly a West Wing fan and she’s able to even add a “Bartlett-gives-Charlie-a-carving-knife” tear-jerker moment at the end which I appreciated deeply. Get out and vote.
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