“An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a War Room full of politicians and generals frantically tries to stop.” -IMDB
As a pop culture enthusiast, I always find it incredibly uncomfortable when I find myself in a conversation about one of those juggernauts that everyone in the world is supposed to know. It could be a movie, a TV show, an album, but you supposedly can’t call yourself an “X” buff unless you’re familiar with this work. I tend to smile politely and try to escape the conversation before the person can ask me if I’m familiar with it. So, in order to avoid these situations in the future, I’ve used this otherwise horrible year to take the time to watch, read, and listen to some classics that I otherwise would not have had the time for. And given the political climate, I thought Dr. Strangelove would be the perfect place to begin.
I have avoided Kubrick’s canon in the past because many of his movies deal with topics that I don’t gravitate to in movies. I’m very much not a horror fan, war movies aren’t necessarily my favorite either, and it takes a lot for me to decide to watch something that includes violence against women. So, that cuts out The Shining (although I did, under pressure, end up watching it), Full Metal Jacket, and A Clockwork Orange right there. However, my desire to watch these classics comes from a need to understand what all of the fuss is about, whether I end up enjoying the movie or not.
I did, I am happy to report, see what all of the fuss was about with Dr. Strangelove. Let me clarify…
Now, that is not to say it is one of my favorite movies, but I can see why it is a classic and why it is so influential. It’s satire of the incompetency of global leadership rings true today and, unfortunately, will probably always remain relevant. My favorite scene, a phone call between the leaders of the U.S. and Russia, is still laugh-out-loud funny because we recognize the fallibility and human failings of our modern “leaders” (perhaps now more than any other time since Nixon). Plus, the entire saga is sparked by one man’s conspiracy theory regarding the slow poisoning of Americans by a foreign power (SOUND FAMILLIAR?!).
So, as the go-to in black comedy, Dr. Strangelove delivers exactly what you look for in that genre: a harsh dose of reality delivered with a spoonful of comedic sugar that helps the medicine go down.
Rating: WORTH THE WATCH
If you like this movie, you should also see: The Kubrick canon, Catch-22, M*A*S*H*
Streaming: Available for purchase or to rent on Apple TV
With: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick