So, Joe Dante’s unjustly obscure 1997 HBO movie, The Second Civil War, landed on Binge recently as part of the Aussie streaming service’s ongoing process of trawling through HBO’s lesser known properties for content. Having not watched the thing in years since I lost or gave away my second-hand VHS copy, I jumped on it with gusto. Still stands up. Then, because I’m a freelancer with a penchant for luxuries like living indoors and eating hot meals, I pitched around a retrospective review, and I reckon you can guess who pulled the trigger on that one. Today, already planning on sitting down to write the piece, I woke up, under a cat who has gotten markedly more affectionate since the weather turned cold, to this headline:

GOP megadonor funds S.D. troops’ border deployment

… which is really fucking interesting. Horrifying, too, but interesting. History has caught up with The Second Civil War. You probably haven’t (it’s not your fault — it’s been hard to find). So, let’s go …

In the nearish future, India nukes Pakistan. That’s a pretty bad deal for Pakistan, who get fridged pretty quickly to put the focus on the U.S. in general and Idaho, of all places, in particular, where Governor Jim Farley (Beau Bridges, who copped an Emmy for his efforts) is rocking an anti-immigration stance and has announced that he is closing the state’s borders before a planeload of freshly-orphaned Pakistani kids arrives. It’s a pretty hypocritical position, considering he’s trying to rekindle his affair with Mexican-American reporter Christina (Elizabeth Peña), who is pregnant with his child, much to the consternation of his press secretary, Jimmy Cannon (Kevin Dunn).

The White House pushes back or at least tries to — the President (Phil Hartman) is pathologically averse to any kind of decision-making, deferring to slick lobbyist and consultant Jack Buchan (James Coburn), which results in wonderful inanities like a 72-hour ultimatum being whittled down to 67 and a half hours, so the President’s speech doesn’t interrupt the soap opera All My Children.

Monitoring and somewhat exacerbating the situation is news network NewsNet, with veteran News Director Mel Burgess (Dan Hedaya) and his team (including Ron Perlman and James Earl Jones) in the nerve center, and a camera team that includes Denis Leary and Dick Miller in the field. It’s the latter who clocks that other states are sending National Guard units to bolster Idaho’s forces, making the situation much bigger than one rebel Governor. And it’s NN that calls the crisis “The Second Civil War,” branding being important in these scenarios …

Read more at Mr Movies Film Blog.

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