Primary Colors
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Mike Nichols directed this Elaine May screenplay adapted from the 1996 bestseller by "Anonymous" (Joe Klein), who fictionalized Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign. In the New Hampshire primary, Governor Jack Stanton (John Travolta) convinces Henry Burton (Adrian Lester), grandson of a respected civil rights pioneer, to become his deputy campaign manager. Stanton's smart wife Susan (Emma Thompson) always comes through with public support for her philandering husband. The film's parallel for James Carville is Stanton's redneck advisor Richard Jemmons (Billy Bob… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"As satire, it's toothless and indulgent; as drama of conscience, it's not a patch on real life..."
‑ Derek Adams, Time Out
"The movie itself makes no judgment. It's smart enough to ask you to do that by yourself and for yourself."
‑ Susan Stark, Detroit News
"Well-acted drama full of Clinton-era jabs."
‑ Charles Cassady, Common Sense Media
"The film owes a few doggie bones to "Wag the Dog," which came first in pointing out what Primary Colors only seconds."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"It used to be that we had to wait 20 years for the fictionalization of history -- now that gap seems to have closed to less than five years. Kinda sad. But also kinda entertaining!"
‑ Chris Gore, Film Threat
"A smart and savvy piece of work."
‑ Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"Adapting Joe Klein's roman a clef of the same name, ferociously witty screenwriter Elaine May and her smooth old compatriot in comedy, director Mike Nichols, have made a zingy drama and have staffed it well."
‑ Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
"A savvy and thought-provoking look at the nature of contemporary American politics."
‑ Michael Dequina,
"Primary Colors successfully straddles the line between comedy and tragedy."
‑ Rob Gonsalves,
"John Travolta has himself a good deal of fun with his take-off on President Clinton."
‑ Robin Clifford, Reeling Reviews
"Travolta's warmth and expansiveness effectively amplify and embellish the likable and personable side of Stanton."
‑ Todd McCarthy, Variety
"The movie is endlessly inventive and involving."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"Travolta is amazingly Clintonesque as Stanton, a role that I never believed he could pull off."
‑ Jon Popick,
"Primary Colors becomes a political morality play, and quite frankly, its mechanics cause it to crawl in across the finish line."
‑ Gary Brown, Houston Community Newspapers
"an alarmingly topical comedy-drama that dredges up far more issues than it can address in its two-and-a-half hours. But give Nichols, writer Elaine May and everyone else an 'A' for effort."
‑ James Sanford, Kalamazoo Gazette
More reviews for Primary Colors on Rotten Tomatoes