The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
Abbie Hoffman inspired some of the zaniest footnotes of the Vietnam War era with improv performances mixing civil disobedience and anarchist street theater. Some of his stunts had a certain brilliance, as when he scattered dollar bills onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and the traders dropped scrambling to their knees.
Hoffman was the clown prince of the anti-war movement. While Tom Hayden sawed away seriously at the 1968 Democratic convention, Abbie was announcing plans to drop LSD into the Chicago water supply--a threat Mayor Richard J. Daley took seriously (I remember the Chicago Police boats ominously guarding the filtration plant). When Hayden, Hoffman and their fellow Chicago Seven members were hauled up before Judge Julius Hoffman, surely the last jurist in America who should have been chosen to preside, Hayden and his allies played it straight while Hoffman treated the event like a circus.
Abbie Hoffman's Yippies provided the linguistic link between Hippies and Yuppies. "Steal This Movie" provides an untidy and frustrating but never boring look at his life and times. More than anyone else in recent American history, he was able to capture headlines and gain national attention just with the audacity of his imagination. When he announced that he and fellow Yippie Party members would levitate the Pentagon, he drew an enormous crowd--among them Norman Mailer, who confessed that although he doubted Hoffman could do it, he wanted to be there, just in case. Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover didn't get the joke, but then that was the whole point.
The movie traces the trajectory of Hoffman (played by Vincent D'Onofrio) from the early 1960s, when he was a civil rights worker in the South, to the late 1970s, when he had gone underground as "Barry Freed" and was a respected environmental campaigner in upstate New York, fighting to save the St. Lawrence River. Along the way, he married Anita (Janeane Garofalo), started a family, then fled underground into hiding.