One of my favorite scenes on the film "The Candidate" is when Robert Redford's character is in the back of his limo getting a bit silly with his campaign spiel. There is, of course, an authenticity to this unguarded moment that goes way beyond the well scripted public performances of the political candidate. It is in that spirit that "Feed" deconstructs the 1992 New Hampshire primary. Kevin Rafferty and James Ridgeway collected some damning satellite feed footage as well as more conventional campaign footage that shows these politicians at their worst. I would also say at their funniest, but there is a sense in which all this banality just wants to make you weep (but you do have to crack a smile when George Bush informs listeners during a sound check that he is not Dana Carvey).
The actual feed footage ends up being the smallest component of this 1992 documentary and most of it is rather mundane (e.g., Jerry Brown fiddling with his tie, George Bush staring). More telling are the cameras following the candidates around as they encounter those fun New Hampshire voters who are perfectly willing to tell politicians what they think (remember: a woman has to offer you here hand first before you can shake it). The fact that Ross Perot and Jerry Brown talk dirty is nothing to those of us who figured out all the (expletives deleted) in the Watergate papers. Bill Clinton, who ends up winning at the end of all this fun and games, comes out the best for the most part mainly because he has always been the most comfortable in front of the cameras, but there are a couple of nice moments where he experiences some discomfort. Actually, Senator Bob Kerrey is probably the politico who you end up liking the best. Ten years gone it is something of a test to recall all the candidates who were running in 1992. Pat Buchanan is an easy one, but Tom Harkin and the late Paul Tsongas might considerably less so. Perhaps it is telling that newsman Sam Donaldson and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger steal the spotlight from the candidates as soon as they show up in a room.
The "point" of "Feed," that the politicians who wanted to be President are depressingly human and not people you would invite over for a family dinner, is clear really early on when you are watching. This 80-minute documentary could probably benefit from some judicious editing or could well be improved by contrasting this behind the scenes stuff and nonsense with the polished appearances and slick political ads the candidates wanted voters to pay attention to and remember. "Feed" has its moments, but it is not as impressive as Rafferty's cut-and-paste classic "Atomic Café."