review by Bobby Blakey
Over the last couple of years Ike Barinholtz has really been making a name for himself in TV and movies. Now he is stepping into the director’s chair for his first feature film and also starring alongside Tiffany Haddish, John Cho, Carrie Brownstein, Billy Magnussen, Meredith Hagner, Jon Barinholtz, Nora Dunn, and Chris Ellis.
The Oath follows a high-strung 24-hour progressive news junkie, and his more levelheaded wife Kai who learn that citizens are being asked to sign a loyalty oath to the President, their reaction is disbelief, followed by idealistic refusal. But as the Thanksgiving deadline to sign approaches, the combination of sparring relatives, Chris’s own agitation and the unexpected arrival of two government agents sends an already tense holiday dinner gathering completely off the rails. I love movies like this that take something relevant in the world and put a different spin on it. This is obviously one focusing on the insane political climate and craziness of everything happening in the world while adding a dark comedic but horror like element.
When I refer to horror it isn’t anything scary in the typical ideal of the horror genre, but instead in how real it actually is in today’s world. While it doesn’t use the real politicians or any specific side per say it is pretty obvious the message it is trying to send. While you may view it as completely ones sided that would be your own blinded view as Barinhltz has made sure to give voice to every element in the disagreement. Setting the entire story within a family holiday gathering is perfection and not only makes perfect sense, but is relatable to pretty much everyone especially these days.
Barinholtz does a great job on both sides of the camera bringing the funny and dark craziness when needed. Haddish is great as always getting to be the more stable one this time around, but still given some moments to cut lose when necessary. Being able to cast his real life brother Jon Barinholtz who is always
great on Superstore, made for an even more believable relationship in the family. When they are going head to head you can see the familiar connection in both the happy things they have to say to each other and even more so the fights that made this even more possible to connect with.
Things start off like a simple family squabble regarding the Oath in question and quickly crashes into violent descent complete with kidnappings, beatings, and more violent actions that take this film in a whole new direction. Where it worked the best for me is the interesting twist ending Barinholtz went with that kind of leaves it all open in a way that showcases the lack of resolution and overall wasted time that most of this nonsense has done to us as a people. Don’t look at the film as a one sided argument that can easily be found, but instead look at the lack of communication and the insane direction it has taken us all down.
Whether you agree with his views or even like this movie I applaud Barinholtz for taking inspiration and running with it to create a film that is thought provoking, funny, violent and scary how real it all is all wrapped up in a perfect crazy bow. This release not only includes the film but bonus content including deleted scenes, featurettes, trailer and photo gallery. Pledge your oath and grab a copy of The Oath available now on Digital and then DVD on January 8th from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.