The Oath – More Intense than Funny

Rating (2.5 out of 5)

A comedy with a few laughs, but quickly turns into a drama and loses its mojo in the turn.

Plot:  Chris (Ike Barinholtz) and his wife Kai (Tiffany Haddish) are having the family over for Thanksgiving.  The divisive discussion about politics is complicated by a government issued “Oath”  to be signed by the day after Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving dinner will never be the same.


What I Liked:  There are laugh out loud moments in the movie.  Some are just easy, every family type humor.  For example, he asks his dad to turn down the volume, and his mom and dad argue about turning off the tv versus turning down the volume.  When they decide what to do, they argue about how to do it with the remote.  Think we have all been there with our parents.

I appreciated the various images they portrayed of politics.  The movie leans left, but when I watched the movie I saw him making fun of the left and right.  Chris who is definitely more liberal than the others, is never far from the news and can even be extreme for his wife.  Anyone who disagrees with him is wrong and he is vehement in his belief.

They also did a good job of showing the complexity of when the government issues an edict like the Oath and the choice you face: do you sign the oath or risk your quality of life for yourself and family.  Family was emphasized over country and the greater good quite a few times.  This can be seen as an allegory to Nazi Germany.

What I Didn’t Like:  All of a sudden during the Thanksgiving dinner the tone of the movie makes a turn to the dark/drama side.  Then on the Friday after Thanksgiving  the CPU (police) show up and all of a sudden the movie is a thriller.  The violence and actions where just odd, and didn’t fit the first half of the movie.  Confusing, uncomfortable are words that help describe the change.

Appreciate the attempt to show all sides of an issue but stereotype they made of right was insulting to me an independent and probably to those on the right.  Even how they were dressed was stereo type; the brother and his girlfriend were dressed like 1980’s Reagan Republicans.  If the brothers had similar jobs and if dressed in similar fashion the contrast of left versus right would have been more interesting.

Conclusion:  The attempt to make a movie that tries to explore family and politics through a comedy should be commended.  The comedy changes into a drama and the darker turn just ruins the film and stereo typing is a bit offensive for a drama.