This week in Film — BOYS STATE

Depending on your mileage, watching a documentary about mock politics in the middle of an election year might either be catnip or a doody-flavored lollipop. Thankfully, Boys State is neither. Sure, it’s about politics and politicking, but the heart of this movie isn’t about party platforms and special interest groups; it’s about a group of boys who will someday find themselves leading something much more than a mock political party.

Sides mean nothing and winning means everything. Upon arrival at Boys State, the teens are divided into two parties: Federalist and Nationalist. But the tenets of those parties are pushed aside for modern-day conservative values. As René Otero, a Black teen from Chicago, points out, Boys State is “conservative indoctrination.” He’s right, but [directors] McBaine and Moss let the cameras roll, revealing that Robert isn’t the only one here harboring liberal beliefs. On first blush, Boys State appears to be either a celebration or castigation of conservative white masculinity. But that’s just a ruse, a way for McBaine and Moss to distract you while slowly pulling the rug out from underneath. Once that’s gone, preconceptions follow suit. All that remains is Boys State’s artfully crafted drama.

Boulder Weekly, Vol. 27, No. 52, “In order to form a more perfect union.”

Boys State is streaming on AppleTV+, and it’s one of the best movies of the year.