6.8/10
1,589
23 user 9 critic

The Second Civil War (1997)

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

Director:

Joe Dante

Writer:

Martyn Burke
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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Beau Bridges ... Gov. Jim Farley
Joanna Cassidy ... Helena Newman
Phil Hartman ... The President
James Earl Jones ... Jim Kalla
James Coburn ... Jack Buchan
Dan Hedaya ... Mel Burgess
Elizabeth Peña ... Christina
Denis Leary ... Vinnie Franko
Ron Perlman ... Alan Manieski
Kevin Dunn ... Jimmy Cannon
Shelley Malil ... Congressman Singh
Brian Keith ... Maj. Gen. Charles Buford
Kevin McCarthy ... Chief of Staff
Dick Miller ... Eddie O'Neill
William Schallert ... Secretary of Defense
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Storyline

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 <walt@dtcc.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A very uncivil comedy See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

15 March 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La segunda guerra civil See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Phil Hartman, Kevin Dunn and Denis Leary would later appear in Small Soldiers (1998), also directed by Joe Dante. See more »

Quotes

Mel Burgess: Where's the White House? Do we still have a White House, or is Tokyo foreclosed on it?
See more »

Connections

References M*A*S*H: Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen (1983) 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 bob the mooSee 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.


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