The Second Civil War (1997)

TV Movie  |  R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  15 March 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,408 users  
Reviews: 20 user | 6 critic

A simple immigration issue spins wildly out of control for those involved, ranging from the President of the United States, to a news producer.



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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jimmy Cannon
Maj. Gen. Charles Buford


An interesting story about a future United States where immigration has gone too far. Through a series of mishaps and mayhem several state 'militias' assist Idaho in order to protect them from the LONG ARM of the Federal government. Written by Walt Adkins <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A very uncivil comedy See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some war violence | See all certifications »





Release Date:

15 March 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La segunda guerra civil  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The real and famous "This is CNN" motto spoken by James Earl Jones is spoofed by the actor himself as "This is NN" in the film. See more »


Mel Burgess: Stop with the college debate, will you? We're news, emotions happen outside!
See more »


References All My Children (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting but rather obvious and neither as funny nor as clever as it needed to be
21 June 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

It is the near future and a nuclear attack on Pakistan from India has left millions as refugees. As a planeload of orphans leaves for America, the Governor of Idaho declares Idaho's borders shut to immigrants. With one eye on the opinion poles, the President of the United States reacts with a strong hand and gives the Governor 67.5 hours to change his mind (thus avoiding a ratings clashing with a popular soap opera on a non-news channel). As a news network tries to engineer the best view of the action, events spiral out of control with racial tension being triggered in Texas and Los Angeles.

I do not know which film came first but in 1997 this film was put out on TV at around the same time as Wag the Dog was released. Wag was a superb film that was very sharp and funny and it is to this film's detriment that it is very easy to compare the two. Although the plots are different they both satirise the media's influence on politics and politics' concern with image and winning votes and do so with a big cast and a mix of tension and laughs.

However it is not as well carried off here as it was in Wag The Dog and it gets bogged down in rather sappy and obvious messages about acceptance of one another. In some way this is pointed out in funny ways such as Congressman Singh having a deep south accent, the Governor eating Mexican food for breakfast and in love with a Mexican woman; but too often it is obvious and a little sappy. This takes away its intelligence and makes it feel less clever than it really should be to be as sharp a satire as it clearly wants to be. On the flipside of this the film isn't nearly as funny as it should be – it has the occasional really funny bit (James Coburn suggesting that the Irish can be taken off birth control to outbreed the other races and thus win votes was akin to some of Dr Strangelove for my money!) but generally it is not as funny as it really should be.

However I still really enjoyed it and felt it was both clever and funny and even if too much of it wasn't up to the standard of really good satire, it is still worth seeing. The cast echoes the ensemble feel of Wag The Dog even if it lacks a couple of really big names in the way Wag did. None of them really dominate the film or really stand out, instead they seem happy to share the lines and the screentime without overplaying – only Coburn really goes for it and makes a good impression on the film. Having said that the majority do OK with what little they have and it is hard to ignore a cast that features so many famous faces. CoBurn is great even if Hartman, surprisingly, fails to make much of an impact. Bridges but lumbered with much of the 'message' in later stages, Jones is worth seeing although it is Hedaya and Perlman who dominate the newsroom scenes. Leary makes the bridge between this and Wag and the rest of the cast features all manner of faces including Elizabeth Peña, Dick Miller, Kevin Dunn and Kevin McCarthy.

Overall this is a good film but not as good as it should have been; for my money satire needs to be funny and clever and, while this manages to be both at times, it is not as consistent as it really should have been. It gets bogged down in the message and it loses it's edge when it really should be getting stronger and sharper. It is by no means as good as Wag the Dog but it is still worth a look as, although not consistent it is still interesting in its comments and is sporadically funny and clever.

10 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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