Review: Boys State (Sundance 2020)

Title: Boys State
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss
Starring: Steven Garza, Robert MacDougal, Rene Otero
Runtime: 1 hr 49 mins

What It Is: Every year the American Legion in Texas runs the Boys State program. In this 1,100 boys from all over the (large) state are placed into two groups. One called the Federalist the other the Nationalist. These two groups will go through the entire state process of government. Select party heads and various other political seats. Including the highest office in the Lone Star state…governor. We meet a cast of characters including a Latinx youth from Mission named Steven Garza, the closet liberal in Robert Macdougal and the charismatic Rene Otero.

What We Think: This documentary is absolutely fantastic. It has a heart bigger than the state of Texas. It’ll leave you buzzing. I felt so good after I left this one. The individual stories that culminate in this all work towards this ending that…it’s just too perfect. It’s an example of documentary filmmaking done so damned excellently. Several people left the theater in tears. In awe of what was seen. This is so powerful and it gives and should give you all the emotions. These young men are under this microscope and never do they seem like they’re “fake” (outside of MacDougal who was pandering on purpose) and their journey is so interesting. If you read the “What It Is:” section this movie doesn’t sound the least bit interesting. Don’t let that stop you. It’s incredible.

Our Grade: A-, This is a must-see! This might be the first thing that Apple’s streaming service has acquired that is genuinely amazing. Of course, A24 picking it up I think helps too. They continue to make amazing decisions with the films they’re picking up. See this! It is absolutely amazing and it’ll stick with you. If for no other reason then this…maybe give that free year of AppleTV+ you get when you upgrade your phone a try. It is worth it just for this.

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