Robert Greenwald's movie aims to rehabilitate the reputation of Abbie Hoffman, clown prince of the '60s counterculture (a "Groucho Marxist," sneered his detractors), by recreating key pieces of Hoffman's political theater, revealing the
torment behind the public face, and reminding viewers that Hoffman was a longtime target of Cointelpro, a secret FBI's program that harassed domestic political dissidents. The title echoes Hoffman's notorious manifesto, Steal This Book!, and begins in the mid-'70s, when Hoffman was a fugitive. Having fled an arrest for drug dealing (which may have been trumped up), Hoffman (Vincent D'Onofrio) goads a journalist into writing an article about his glory days as an anti-war activist. The story unfolds in a series of flashbacks narrated primarily by Hoffman's wife Anita (Janeane
Garofalo) and lawyer Gerry Lefcourt (Kevin Pollak). Hoffman turned his apparently boundless energy to a variety of social and political causes, starting with registering Black voters in the segregated South. Unlike his contemporaries, the Merry Pranksters, Hoffman's antics were always rooted in politics; his escapades included throwing money on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and watching traders scramble; organizing a rally to levitate the Pentagon; and turning his trial for inciting riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention into an absurdist statement about the American judicial system's biases. An underlying tendency to manic-depression asserted itself when Hoffman was forced underground, but still managed to make a name for himself as an environmentalist using a false identity. It's a compelling story, and very of its tumultuous time. Garofalo is remarkable as the feisty, level-headed Anita, who loves Hoffman even after he moves in with another woman (Jeanne Tripplehorn) during his years on the run. She's ably supported by Kevin Corrigan as Jerry Rubin, Donal Logue as Hoffman's longtime friend Stew Alpert, and Troy Garity, who plays his own father, future politician Tom Hayden.
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- Released: 2000
- Rating: R
- Review: Robert Greenwald's movie aims to rehabilitate the reputation of Abbie Hoffman, clown prince of the '60s counterculture (a "Groucho Marxist," sneered his detractors), by recreating key pieces of Hoffman's political theater, revealing the torment behind the… (more)