The oath that is the basis for this movie's plot has several real precedents from U.S. history. In March 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed United States Executive Order 9835, which required U.S. government employees to swear that they were not members of any organizations that were deemed "subversive" and it authorized widespread investigations to search for "incriminating" details in government employees' pasts, including homosexuality. More commonly known as the "Truman Loyalty Order," it was largely driven by paranoia about the possibility of Soviet and other communist infiltration in government and other American institutions and is now seen as an early incident in the period known as the Red Scare. Another famous American loyalty oath was the Levering Act of 1950, a California state law that required every state employee to sign a statement attesting that they were not communists or members of any group that advocated the overthrow of the U.S. government. The University of California Board of Regents fired 31 professors (despite their tenured status) who refused to sign the oath on grounds of academic freedom and freedom of speech. The dismissals were eventually reversed by the California Supreme Court, but only after several years and lawsuits. As of 2018, several U.S. states still require their employees to sign loyalty oaths. See more »
When Chris and Alice are smoking a joint, they both smoke it like a cigarette. Neither inhales. See more »
If it wasn't for people like me, people like YOU would be slaves to people like me.
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Topical amd bloody dark humor. After all, it's Thanksgiving dinner.
Some films are not easily classified: Ike Barinholtz's The Oath is just such a puzzle. The prospect of seeing a comedic take on Thanksgiving with current liberal and conservative divisions in many families was tantalizing.
However, The Oath turns into a black comedy at best and bloody Straw Dogs home invasion at worst. Chris (Ike Barinholtz), a liberal, tries to understand why anyone would sign a government loyalty oath (Think Trump's National Loyalty Day, May 1) today in democratic USA. His brother, Pat (Jon Barinholtz) and most of his family, has signed, leading to Chris trying to avoid confrontations with little luck.
With two Citizens Protection Unit operatives arriving unannounced, the contentious Thanksgiving dinner turns into a bloody confrontation between these enforcers of the oath and the growingly isolated, liberal Chris.
For sure there are laughs at the extreme ends of the political spectrum, both sides evidencing ignorance and moved more by the movements themselves rather than deep-seated beliefs. Yet both sides are capable of cruelty and violence, and even Chris and his loving wife, Kai (Tiffany Haddish) are capable of turning on each other.
The animosities are made real by today's polarized politics, so that the absurdist humor can resonate in all its hyperbole. Although the ending should satisfy both sides, and for sure the liberals, nonetheless all sides should be able to fear the extremes to which the citizenry can go and embrace a humanism that doesn't force anyone to turn on family.
After all, it is Thanksgiving, and I feel confident your family will be kind and loving. It's the others you have to worry about.
This dark drama has touches of humor, but also, it's Straw Dogs for political extremists. The Oath is a surprisingly acidic commentary on our partisan culture today.
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