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brilliant, in-depth examination of Nader and his societal interactions
Bill Delp9 January 2007
Henriette Mantel and Steve Skrovan's An Unreasonable Man insightfully and objectively chronicles the life of Ralph Nader and his interactions with society. It is filled with fascinating, carefully chosen, artfully constructed sequences which replay beautiful and dark moments of the past 60 plus years and puts them into context. Many of Nader's most ardent critics and supporters are interviewed in this balanced and educational documentary which focuses on facts and mixes them with speculation and opinion. I was riveted to the preview screening I saw on a large TV. Its so fast-paced, information packed, emotional, exciting, engaging, enRaging, and occasionally hilarious that when seeing it in a movie theater you should buckle your seatbelts! Keep your cell phones turned off and your mind open when watching this critically important film. It reminds me of 2 of my favorite Akira Kurosawa films, High and Low and Ikiru in the ways it makes me think about the pursuit of justice, equality, hard work, investigation, society, corporate ruthlessness, governmental bureaucracy, and the power of an individual to make a difference (for good or ill). An Unreasonable Man also reminds me of these 2 Kurosawa masterpieces because of its attention to detail, mastery of the subject, and mastery of the documentary format. It gives you powerfully organized information in chronological order and copious amounts of vintage footage which has been fascinatingly and cleverly edited and lets you make up your mind about this powerful, fascinating, multi-faceted, and controversial subject, Ralph Nader.
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The challenge to a debate
Chris Knipp5 March 2007
A paradox: here is one of the most significant and controversial men of recent American history, and yet the media rarely mention him. Once a hero, he has become a pariah. This new documentary is a good record of the achievement and the controversy. While it's friendly to the man, it also lets some of his most vitriolic political opponents (Gitlin, Alterman) speak out loud and clear. It's hard to leave the theater without entering into a debate over the final issue the film raises: Was Nader right or wrong to run as a third party candidate against George W. Bush? Did his campaign really cause Al Gore to lose? Is Nader responsible for the Iraq war? The huge deficit? The post-Katrina debacle? The film takes us back to Nader's origins: he was one of four siblings born into a Lebanese Christian immigrant family in Winstead, Connecticut, whose town meetings he came to consider an example of true direct democracy. His mother was a political activist and his father a restaurant owner who encouraged, if not required, political debate with customers and at home at the dinner table. "What did you learn at school today"? his father would ask young Ralph: "Did you learn to think, or did you learn to believe?" Clearly the man, his brother, and his two sisters, learned leadership from these origins. Each became outstanding in their own field. Nader went to Princeton and Harvard Law, then after a brief stint in the Army and time as a lawyer and teacher of government, he went to Washington, and the rest is history.

What is it about Ralph Nader? Surely there is no one like him in public life. The crusader, the Knight in Shining Armor. One thinks of the lean face, the uniform of dark suit and plain tie, the calm, piercing, often ironic voice. One thinks of the man's dedication, his frugality. He has never married, a conscious choice: work comes first; there's no room for family. It's been written in Current Biography that before leaving his six-month stint in the Army in 1959 Nader acquired four dozen cheap, sturdy military socks from the PX that by the mid-Eighties he still hadn't worn out. Thoreau would have liked that. The man hears a different drummer indeed. In his glory days of major accomplishments as a consumer advocate -- a legacy so pervasive we're barely aware of it, though it has saved many lives -- Nader worked stolidly through the system right at the time -- the Sixties -- when the Counterculture was at its peak The Crusader, the Idealist, Nader is a stubborn man whose stands have won battles and infuriated many. His rigidity, his nerdiness: rising to prominence in the Sixties and Seventies, he never adopted the looser, more florid style of the time but always kept to the monastic suit and tie and short hair.

Spurred by a good friend's becoming handicapped after a car accident, Nader first came to national and international prominence by fighting Detroit for safer cars, the Chevrolet Corvair being a famous target. This was to be an epic battle in which the auto manufacturers tried to dig up dirt against him and bait him with prostitutes; he fought back with lawsuits and won. Nader has tackled government agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration. In his battles to keep the air and water clean, provide safe food and decent nursing homes, protect forests and many other things, Nader has founded literally dozens of non-profit organizations. The list is so long the film can't quite keep up; it's best on the early period of advocacy for auto safety. "Nader's Raiders" -- the popular name for the hundreds of young activists who came to Washington to work with Nader in suited, hard-working teams -- provide some of the many talking heads who reminisce, besides the angry opponents. (Largely missing: corporate critics.) Jimmy Carter's presidency was a turning point. Nader felt betrayed by Carter, who seemed so friendly at first, and by some of his former associates who went to work in government agencies. Nader will not compromise. People in government have to. For Nader, that was unacceptable.

Some other points: Nader is a "consumer advocate," but that doesn't mean he's pro-consumption (remember the socks). Perhaps Nader's attitude toward the democrats goes back to his issues with Carter. It's not difficult to point out the many ways that Clinton as president was pro-business, anti-welfare; that he did not keep the promise of a national health service. With a different façade, Nader points out, Clinton continued many of the pro-corporate, neo-liberal policies of Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Nader's defies the two-party system. Nader holds, as the film shows, that any independent candidate who knuckles under when the final push to election time begins and throws in his support to the democratic candidate is telling the Republicans and Democrats that they can do whatever they want. It's essential to have a third party that's a real threat. And the reason why this is so is that there is not a big difference between the two parties. Still: George W. Bush no worse than Al Gore? One critic says Nader is a Leninist: he implicitly wants things to get worse to force a change. Not quite true -- he's just fed up with the principle of the "least worst" -- but few of us who live in these United States can be so uncompromising, so maddeningly self-righteous and rigid -- and often so surprisingly right despite everyone else saying otherwise. In short, few of us are like Ralph Nader. If those who voted for him in 2000 had foreseen the disaster that is the current administration have done so? But would the world not be measurably worse without him? That's what this fascinating film challenges us to consider. Don't we need more, not fewer, such people?
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But More Reasonable than Republicans and Democrats?
Kakueke25 February 2007
This documentary is a chronicle of Ralph Nader's life and times, with an above-average dose of commentators. They are many: Nader's associates and many journalists, and others ranging from Phil Donahue to Pat Buchanan, but the latter is there for additional perspective on Nader, not debating points. Indeed, while the commentators support the documentary narrative on Nader's background, activities (including Nader's Raiders), and accomplishments, the biggest debate is on whether Nader did the right thing in not abandoning his independent Presidential bid in 2000 and perhaps costing Al Gore the election.

Some material on Nader's background is included, from his birth in Winsted, Ct. His parents were Lebanese immigrants. His mother was a political activist, and his father ran a restaurant and a bakery, helping shape Nader's lifelong affection for the marketplace and the consumer, as well as political discourse, for the restaurant was a haven for political discussion. The town-meeting-type government, in which Nader's family participated, with citizens voting on laws, was seen by Nader as pure democracy at work. Nader was bright and went to Harvard Law School, and he had a friend become paraplegic because of an auto accident.

Nader has championed many consumer issues. Auto safety, Nader's first claim to fame, is focused on most early and prominently and is a recurring theme, perhaps most appropriately. He took on GM, Ford, and Chrysler on seat belts to pollution control to steering mechanisms, and this is covered well, along with their twisted efforts to discredit him (even by extremely sleazy methods invading his privacy).

As for Nader's candidacy for President in 2000, the commentators debate extensively and, at some moments, venomously. He arguably cost Gore the election versus a reactionary President, and was his staying in until the end justified? But Nader ran because of what he believed in, thinking Democrats had become too much like Republicans. As the documentary covers at length, this had been a theme of Nader's political existence since the time of Nixon and Ford. Jimmy Carter turned out to be undependable in Nader's eyes, but the big problem really arose with the election of Reagan, the force of whose personality made people forget the difference between right and wrong, including on consumer issues. Regulations with their roots in Nader were opposed and sometimes successfully thrown out. Nader saw a lack of sympathy and agreement with his concerns continue through Democratic President Bill Clinton, whose Vice President was Gore. All in all, Nader's stubbornness in 2000 can be attributed to long-time frustration, not just recent events. Hence, the title of the movie, based on George Bernard Shaw's quote.

Nader's contribution on environmental (clean water and air) and safety matters outside of autos could have been discussed a little more. Another possible item for inclusion might have been some specifics on some laws and regulations, enacted and recommended; then, it might have been interesting to hear debate on whether he was right or was going too far, etc. However, this documentary ran more than two hours as is, and it is very well done; it will be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone interested in the subject matter.
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an Unreasonable Man in an Absurd World
Tachikoma-220 December 2008
I'm going to keep this very short.

The first time I heard of Ralph Nader was through a friend, eight years a go. Eight years a go when Gore was running against Bush. My friend told me to find information on Ralph Nader, he told me that Nader was something different and something special.

I am not an American, so I had very little interest in American politics those days. Regardless I decided to check out this "Nader creature". Well my friend was right. Nader was something different. I felt there was something odd, weird about him. Nader had this monotonous voice and he didn't give these easy to digest political speeches. He didn't promise "change" or talk about "no child left behind" acts. In fact Nader talked about facts.

It was then that it dawned me. The reason why I found Naders message to be so weird, was because he was telling the truth! In a messed up, corporate controlled world, what are the odds that the consumer activist actually knows what is going on? Nader is a consumer activist and people all around the world owe Ralph Nader a great deal. Look at what you wear, what you eat, what you drive, where you work, the computer you own and tell me that corporations don't have power over you. Don't tell me that corporations aren't interested in politics. Corporations invest in political personalities.

Nader is a man who has fought for the consumer all his life, and that's what we are in the west. We are consumers. So when Ralph Nader speaks, we should listen instead of throwing cakes at him.
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How will Ralph Nader be remembered?
nancyf-12 June 2006
For many people Ralph Nader's entry into partisan politics has given them their first view of this man. The film gives a much richer view reaching back to his family and college days, and shows his quest for rights of the individual member of the public and for consumer advocacy in general have been a lifelong mission. Former coworkers and colleagues - many Nader's Raiders - are featured along with commentators who have followed him over the years.

The filmmakers are sympathetic to all aspects of Ralph, but (in the early cut I saw at Sundance '06) advocates for the original Ralph, champion of Everyman, the guy whom I thank daily as I reach for my mandated seat belt.
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one of the best documentaries in years
Roland E. Zwick8 August 2007
If any single individual can be said to have determined the outcome of an election, it would have to be Ralph Nader. And if any one person can be credited with saving thousands of lives through the actions he's performed and the stands he's taken, well that would be Ralph Nader too.

After decades as the world's premiere consumer activist and all-around corporate gadfly, Nader should, in the sunset of his life, be basking in the glow of unalloyed adulation, a shiny symbol of hope and courage for the common man in this country. Instead, he finds himself a figure more reviled than revered by those who should love him most.

The documentary "An Unreasonable Man" attempts to explore the reason for this mystifying love/hate dichotomy. Filmmakers Henriette Mantel and Steve Skrovan trace the path of Nader's life beginning with his childhood in Connecticut, where he was raised by his socially-conscious parents to champion fairness and the cause of the little guy, to his eventual career as the populist activist par excellence, taking on corporate behemoths in the name of consumer safety. The movie chronicles the run-ins with GM that turned Nader into not only a household name but clearly "one of the most admired men in America." We see him inspiring a band of college students - who came to be known as "Nader's Raders" - who successfully took on any number of corporate giants throughout the 1960's and 1970's, resulting in many of the consumer protection laws we take so much for granted today. He was clearly a pioneer in his field, and the movie is an inspiring tribute to the selflessness, determination and courage that helped this one man make such a difference in the world (the movie reminds us that before Nader even seatbelts were not standard items in automobiles).

It's with the coming of the Reagan Revolution in the 1980's that Nader began to become severely disillusioned, as he watched the new conservative administration, hostile to the very principle of governmental protectionism, dismantle many of the programs Nader had dedicated his life to setting up. But his disillusionment did not extend merely to Republicans. For it was at this point that Nader began to claim that there wasn't a "dime's worth of difference" between the Republicans and Democrats, a realization that compelled him to finally run in 2000 as a Presidential candidate on the Green Party ticket. The rest, of course, is history, with many Democrats, some formerly close friends of Nader, choosing to blame their fallen idol for Gore's squeaker loss in Florida (and, consequently, the nation) on that fateful election night.

Although "An Unreasonable Man" presents Nader in a generally flattering light, it does not shy away from the very genuine anger Nader's actions have aroused in many of his former followers. Many blame him for ensuring Bush's victory and, thus by extension, for eight years of what they would describe as appalling Republican leadership. Others take a more philosophical view, worrying more about how all this might taint the very impressive legacy Nader built up over many decades of tireless social activism. In true maverick style, Nader pooh-poohs this concern, claiming that fighting for people is what he truly cares about, not how he will be viewed by future generations. The movie provides many opportunities for Nader's faithful supporters to have their say, as well, so we get a fascinating debate about whether ideological purity or steely-eyed pragmatism should be the key factor in determining one's vote in a presidential election. One of the most interestingly ironic moments in the film comes when we see Michael Moore, who is usually the one doing the sandbagging in his own films, being sandbagged himself as he is shown flip-flopping on his support for Nader between the 2000 election where he spoke at Nader rallies and the 2004 election where he pleads with Nader not to run.

Even people who are still embittered by Nader's role in the 2000 election may find themselves softening in their attitude towards him a bit after watching this film. The movie certainly reminds us of the great debt of gratitude we owe him as a nation, and, even when he is at his most obstinate in the political realm, we sense that he is being that way for ideologically honest reasons, not out of ego or malice. It's awfully hard not to find oneself cheering him on as he attempts to force his way into the audience for one of the 2000 presidential debates, after he and all the other independent candidates had been officially banned from the premises.

"An Unreasonable Man" provides a generous helping of archival footage to go along with the passionate interviews on both sides of the Nader spectrum (the movie does not, however, provide any real conservative voices, except for Patrick Buchanan, who, on many issues is actually more aligned with Nader's positions than opposed to them).

Love him or loathe him, this is a fantastically interesting and informative documentary about one of the most influential figures of the last hundred years.
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unreasonable yet heroic
marina_wood7 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film at a pre-screening in West LA and absolutely loved it. I have researched Nader extensively and there is a plethora of information and accomplishments out there in regards to his life. This movie managed to pack in plenty, though there is never enough to show what Ralph Nader has really meant to the American people. The film was important in that it showed both Nader's critics and followers, along with his betrayers and friends. It was very interesting to learn about his childhood a little since it was the only personal thing I have ever heard about him. Nader simply appears to have had no social life other than that of social reform, which is most likely how he managed to change the country so drastically. The film carries you through the hero he was once portrayed as, to the embarrassment he became and makes you wonder what he really did to deserve the smearing he obtained. Hopefully after watching this movie, he will not be viewed so much as a spoiler. Regardless, even he said, he does not care about his "legacy", he really just cares about the people's interests. We are very lucky to have someone so dedicated to us!
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Don't Blame it on the Umpire
bbowens19 December 2007
Watching this, I realized that I hadn't come to a hard conclusion on the "Nader effect on the election" debate. This movie presented that aspect of Nader's career in a comprehensive and balanced way. Although I tended to feel that Gore should have won the 2000 election by a landslide, and that it never should have come down to vote counting in one state, this movie really had me wavering until it became obvious that trying to blame Nader for Gore's loss (and arguably, ours) is like blaming the umpire in baseball if your team loses-- if it comes down to that, then you just haven't done your job.

So, hat's off to Ralph-- there just aren't enough people like him.
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Hero or Spoiler?
eternalbadluckcharm16 July 2007
Early in this film, Phil Donahue says "there's a Shakespearan feature to all of this", and he is right on the money. This brilliant film from the former producer of Everybody Loves Raymond examines the life of Ralph Nader, hearing from his favorite admirers...and his admirers who turned into his harshest critics(Eric Alterman: "I think the man needs to live in a different country. He's done enough damage to this one, let him damage someone else's for a while").

Nader had a massive impact on our lives, from seat belts to the Freedom of Information Act to product labeling to OSHA, no one in America has been left untouched by Nader's legacy. With amazing archival footage and on camera interviews, this film portrays how a once hero of the left, who appeared on the cover of Newsweek wearing a suit of armor, became the Democrats favorite bunching bag for costing Al Gore the election.

The filmmakers do not pull any punches, as they examine the line between idealism and pragmatism and how far one should allow their political party to get worse before taking action. They also examine how one man could make a remarkable difference in the world.

Nader was undoubtedly the most important private citizen of the 20th century. As the 21st century progresses along, the debate will be, Ralph Nader: Spoiler or Hero?
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The big question
hoopi443224 December 2007
This film explores this fundamental question about democracy; do you vote with your conscious and the future in mind (big picture), or do you vote for the change right now because things are so messed up? My view, and I think the view of the film, is if we vote to change the right now we will only continue the flawed system and it's preconditions that will ensure we never really solve the major problems....just temporarily fix them.

What the story of Ralph Nader gives us is an example of how you can fight the system and win. How when you act on what you believe in and look at the world without discrimination you can affect great positive change.

Everyone told Ralph he couldn't do this, he couldn't do that. Ralph looked them right in the eye and said F-off I'm doing it because it's the right thing do. And then he would either win the argument or have his predictions proved true.

This is the most inspirational film I have watched thus far in my life. If you like justice and fairness, try An Unreasonable Man. You will feel sooooo empowered after watching it.

**This comment has been made safer by Ralph Nader**
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Persistence, persevering - making democracy stronger
U.N. Owen30 October 2011
AN UNREASONABLE MAN - a documentary about Ralph Nader, was made in 2006. Two years after his second run for presidency, two years into W's 2nd term.

For those who don't know who Mr. Nader is, he was best known (in the 70's) for helping make mandatory a host of things, including safety belts, which, in an epic battle against G.M., did not want to put into cars - the (minuscule) cost to do so, was deemed 'too expensive.'

Mr. Nader took on many fights like this, and in his next incarnation, he ran for President of the U.S., first in 2000, and again in '04.

It's the differences in these two campaigns - and, the time since that 2nd campaign ('06), and the repercussions we STILL feel today, and, for years to come - unless we wake up.

Mr. Nader's first campaign was seen as almost a continuation of his consumer advocacy - he was a 3rd-party candidate, and his supporters viewed him as someone who'd help bring this nation back to it's senses - help release the elected officials' ties to PAC's, and corporations.

At one point, the organization that funds the presidential debates (a private firm) refused to allow any candidates from ANY other parties, other than Democrat Al Gore, and Republican George W. Bush - to attend.

This led to a situation, where Mr. Nader was invited to the debates (an off-stage viewing room, specifically), but, was met by police - who barred his entry.

The election results were razor-thin, and many felt that W took the election (I'm NOT going to debate that, here), but, what happened to the US -and, the world, in general soon after, would strengthen what many perceived to be a weak, one-term presidency, and give them broad-sweeping powers that would cripple our basic rights;

The attack of 11 Sept, '01.

While this event is not strongly looked into, it caused ripples that would help W to a second term - and, many of the supporters of Nader's 1st run, not only wouldn't support him, they came out AGAINST him - with such vitriol (watch the difference in Michael Moore's strong convictions in praise of Nader for '00, and the clip right after, in '04, where he compares voting for Nader to the temporary high you get from using drugs!).

Many who supported him, we're mocked -or worse - in '04,.

As I said, this documentary was made in '06, so, we'd not yet suffered the financial meltdown of '08, and other events. Most of these once-for-now-against Nader supporters mock Nader's second run as 'foolish, egotistical,'

As my father says; 'love everybody, trust nobody.' yes, it sounds cold, but, what this about- face of Mr. Nader shows how support can be fickle.

At the end, several of the commentators mock Nader - his beliefs, etc. But, Mr. Nader says (I'm paraphrasing) his view has never changed. He doesn't care about his 'reputation' - only what is right.

He said (again, this was made in '06) how our rights, our freedoms have been heavily eroded, and, he only wants to once again help work to make the US's founding principals, strong.

It's 5 years later, when I saw this, and, the US, and, the world, is getting ever-more blind to these injustices. The finances of the world are in free-fall. A 'third World War' has been fought- without a bullet being fired. I'm referring to the MASSIVE financial clout and CONTROL by China - a country where a 'Mr. Nader' would he jailed - as they manufacture the world's technology, and much, much more.

More and more people are in almost a narcotic-haze, of video games, and 'reality shows,' and materialism (Mr. Nader is NOT anti-capitalism, he's against bad, unfair business practices - that affect us ALL) - oblivious to the future. The 'Democratic' and 'Republican' parties grow ever more alike in their platforms, with the Republican party having been co- opted by extremist religious zealots, and the Democratic party practically catatonic, and, afraid to stand up for itself.

What Mr. Nader rallied against - in the 70's, the '00 election, and again, the '04 election, is becoming more and more common-place.

Mr. Nader states at the end, he's not interested in 'reputation' - he's interested in justice. If anything, I hope that viewing AN UNREASONABLE MAN will wake up Just one person - a person who can help continue to fight against injustices that affect us all.
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Reasonably unreasonable? Or could these things go 'round and 'round?
ShempMyMcMalley10 July 2008
'An Unreasonable Man' sure maybe to some or to the sum, however, to badly paraphrase the quote at the beginning of the film, it's going to have to be that way when going against vast popular opinion or a country set possibly in ill-fated contemporary or foregoing ways. The unreasonable man should always be present in time, sound and communal ways: that way we can check ourselves and make sure the emperor has good threads and of course reason, too. That is the way it is has be; or should be. However, I guess it's not that way; and so it goes, but this is not a political diatribe, spread it where they or I may. This documentary, is one of reasonably objective, standard and possible edifying fare; it brings on opponents of the whole 2000/2004 election elicitation, and brings forth the questions or accusations or presumption that Nader had ruined the election for the dems in both respective races. It is a thorough documentary with footage seemingly inclusive of converse thoughts and events, but obviously biased. Even opponents seem to admit not a dime's worth of difference between our two parties. Nader states "and so when people say, 'why'd you do this in 2000?', well I'd say I'm a twenty-year veteran of pursuing the folly of the least-worst between the two parties, 'cause when you do that, you end up allowing them to both get worse, every four years." Very well said. Furthermore, In a supposed free-market, like cheese or milk, let the voter decide. What did Nader owe Gore or Kerry? Let the voter, or the faux-voter, decide, again! Some party's inability to provide the right H'ors deurves might be to blame. Whom did he owe any votes?
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This is what activism looks like!
Gethin Van Haanrath19 February 2009
It's amusing to see all these hot topic liberals in 2000 supporting Ralph Nader and then running away as quickly as possible in 2004. This speaks volumes about what's wrong with the US political system. Don't vote your conscious, vote convenience. What better way to preserve the status quo? Michael Moore in particular is shown in 2000 in New York in this film praising Ralph Nader at an event at Madison Square Gardens. Four yeas later he's literally grovelling on his knees and asking Nader not to run. I'm not a Green but Nader is a stubborn son-of-a-bitch and that's exactly what's needed in US politics, people who are unrelenting and don't give up no matter how badly the odds are stacked against them. Those people are the best activists. I really wish though that Nader had sat down in front of the building holding the Presidential debates in 2000 and allowed himself to get arrested. It could have put him over the top. It would have made for great optics.
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A conventional but eye opening documentary.
Locut0s26 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
You come to realize through watching "An Unreasonable Man" that Ralph Nader is the last of a dieing breed. A breed that we desperately need in this time of corporate greed, empty politics and back room deals. There's nothing revealed in this documentary that most don't already know about the man, and indeed it suggests that there is little else to the man than what the world knows about him through his public work. Indeed this is a very conventional documentary. Don't watch this expecting to see an expose on some fascinatingly complex character with great depths. Nader is not that type of man, he quite literally is his work and little else. This is a man wholly devoted to improving the lives of the average citizen through the tools of the laws of the land. To the point that when GM tried to dig up dirt on him and entice him with women into compromising situations they came up completely empty handed. Most people probably remember him from the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections where he was roundly criticized of helping to get Bush elected by stealing votes from the Democrats. The documentary does a good job here of showing the anger and bitterness left in the wake of his campaign on both sides. However ultimately Nader emerges here as a man of the people, someone who has tirelessly worked throughout most of his adult life to better the lives of the average person. However one views his latter political carrier there is little doubt left here that his legacy will live on in the seat belts, air bags, food and medication warning labels, and thousands of other consumer protections that we now take for granted.

There is little doubt in my mind that we need more people like Nader, now more than ever.
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Only unreasonable men ever change things
lastliberal18 May 2008
I remember when I was working on my listening skills. I used to listen to the speeches of David Duke to see if I could get beyond his hateful rhetoric to find some gem that I could agree with. When I started to watch this doc, I could easily agree with James Carville that outside of Jerry Falwell, Ralph Nader was the worst man in America, or something to that effect. I would put James Dobson and Karl Rove on that list.

But, all that changed as I examined the facts. Nader did not cost Gore the election. Even David McReynolds got more votes that the 534 that separated Gore and Bush. In fact, every one of the half dozen or so third party candidates in Florida got more than 534 votes. Gore cost Gore the election, Just as Kerry cost Kerry the election in 2004. Bush should not have won either, and if the Democrats had stood up for the people as Nader did, then they would have won both.

We owe so many of the things we take for granted: airbags, seat belts, product labeling warnings on food, clean air; I could go one and on, to Ralph Nader. He is one of the greatest Americans that have ever lived.

No. I would never vote for him, but after watching this doc, I will stop vilifying him.
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EXodus25X3 September 2008
A very interesting documentary about a misunderstood or maybe misrepresented man and presidential candidate in Ralph Nader. Now I have never been a fan of most of the politics of Ralph Nader, his stance on environmental issues and his mostly liberal leaning views have never agreed with me. That is not to say that I do not agree and side with Nader on a few other issues, for example his beliefs in campaign reform and something this film makes very clear, the desperate need this country has to reform it's whole election process, especially the dominating two party system that will continue to keep giving us more of the same every four years. This is not to say that I did or would ever vote for Ralph Nader, in fact I didn't and am grateful to Nader for any votes he took away from Al Gore. I was surprised to learn of all Nader had done in the automotive industry and how hard General Motors had tried to stop Nader, that is proof that money is all that matters to major companies even if it puts their consumers at risk. So, yes I greatly respect Ralph Nader for all the good he as accomplished and all the boundaries he broke down in his presidential runs but I do not stand behind his politics, at least not all of them. One thing I did absolutely loved about this film, when they showed Nader's campaign rally at Madison Square Garden and all these famous celebrities, Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore all singing the praises of Ralph Nader and singing the praises of real change, wow how quickly their true colors show, Nader goes onto loose and they turn on him just like that. Typical liberals, so passionate about something one minute and then not the next, say one thing do another.
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Even if you don't like the man you will learn to respect him
dbborroughs14 February 2007
This is a warts and all look at Nader's career from when he was pushing for auto safety through his Presidential runs. This is an interesting look at the man and his passion to do what he felt was right. He changed the country and the world for the better and made things much more safer for all of us. An uncompromising fellow, Nader my way or the highway stances lost him friends when some of his "raiders" went into politics in the Carter Administration and didn't do what he felt was right. More recently Democrats who needed a scapegoat. blame him for the election and re-election of George W Bush (Which is probably true on some level). Big Business of course hates his guts. Watching the film I still find that I admire the man, however I don't necessarily like him, his pit bull mentality seems to have created the sort of fellow you'd want to punch in the face occasionally just because its probably the only way to make him listen.

For those who want to see who the last four decades of "consumer" issues have played out this is must see TV, for anyone else who simply wants to spend time with a real character are also encouraged to take a look see.
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Can't stand the guy, but very good documentary.
TheEmulator2317 December 2008
This is an excellent documentary that covers both sides of feelings towards Ralph Nader. I personally find the guy to be too extreme but believe he started in the right place. The title surely does sum him up though, he seems to be extremely unreasonable and even a little nutty. I would think his younger self would smack his older self by what he has become. He says it's all about the consumer, but he is a megalomaniac whether he admits it or not. Even if you don't like the man, this is still a very well done & will teach you a little about this guy. Politics or no, as wrong or right as you believe him to be it's heart seems to be in the right place.
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informative but not a great defense for the unreasonable man
SnoopyStyle16 September 2015
This starts with a quote "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." That is essentially the movie and the man in a nutshell.

Ralph Nader throws his hat into the presidential election in 2004 and the Democrats are up in arms. The movie goes into his life as a consumer advocate starting with the automobile industry. It also digs into his personality and his single-mindedness. Then he runs for president in 2000. It tries to defend Ralph Nader's campaign but even his manager comes off as a political hack who has her talking points. Even his academic Democratic supporter has flaws simply on the surface of his research. Ultimately, every one of his arguments fall flat. They come off as either politically naive (which I don't buy) or politically insular or worst politically self-serving. Ralph needs to show some understanding of the Democratic opposition arguments but that's not the man. He is an unreasonable man. The idea that someone could be his supporter in 2000 and his opponent in 2004 is confounding to him. It's a sort of willful ignorance that his Democratic opponents level on him. It doesn't really go too much into the 2004 election other than Kerry was polite but didn't go along with his demands. In the end, this is a tragedy of an unreasonable man.
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Nader the people's man
phrixion11 October 2007
A good documentary covering his life, his accomplishments and his short comings.

Did you know Nader is the man who got seat belts mandatory in every vehicle?

Did you know Nader has fought on our behalf on every level of consumer protection concerning automobiles?

I didn't know any of this before I saw this film and now I have a new respect for him. The documentary also follows his short comings during the presidential elections and how it became his fall from grace.

Like any documentary, it should be taken with grain of salt and since most of it is factual, it is compelling. I would recommend this film to people who like documentaries, want to know more about Activism and lobbying, and more about how Ralph Nader as an individual, changed the lives and landscape of America.
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Great biography if you can get past the music
jogaun12 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"An Unreasonable Man" argues quite persuasively that Nader did the right thing when he refused to drop out of the two most recent US Presidential races. I left feeling completely enamored of Nader the man. However, I would be loath to see the film again due to A) the cheesy, manipulative, "propaganda"-screaming background music and B) the amount of time spent on vile 50-something talking heads with no camera appeal; the film could have been 45 minutes shorter at LEAST. Other than that, it was fine! A very informative biography of a guy who possesses a great deal of personal consistency and integrity. This reviewer urges the filmmakers to post a 60-minute, musical-diarrhea-less version on YouTube.
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