In the climactic scene of the movie from the Anonymous Joe Klein novel, John Travolta-Jack Stanton-Bill Clinton importunes a young, idealistic African-American young man, "We can do incredible things. We can change this country. I'm gonna win this thing. Look me in the eye, Henry, and tell me that you don't want to be a part of it."
In the sequel, Henry has morphed into Barack Obama, and he is still in it, this time not as part of the steamroller but as its target.
In an early scene of the original, a politician talking to the candidate asks the aspiring First Lady, "You don't mind us talking business, do you?" and she answers wryly, "No, no. How else could I learn?"
As we play out "Primary Colors II," how much has Emma Thompson-Susan Stanton-Hillary Clinton learned? The moral dilemma of the original--whether or not to destroy the opposition with dirt--has been transmuted into a team operation to smear Barack Obama with mud about drug use, doubts about his opposition to the war in Iraq and accusations of racial opportunism.
The 1998 movie was in theaters during the impeachment and left viewers with mixed feelings about the ruthless charmer who connected with Americans by feeling their pain while inflicting some of his own on them. Now the whole cast is back, and after years of the George Bush horror movie, the audience may be looking for something a little more elevating.