The Youth Governor movie review (2022)

It is disappointing that the filmmakers make the same choice as the media when covering the government, spending most of its time on the personalities and horse racing aspect of the election rather than the substance of the cases. It is more about politics than politics. We hear about some conflicts between the conservatives and the progressives without learning anything about the specifics of their disagreements or, more importantly, seeing what factors they find most compelling and how they resolve their disagreements. More money for education and less money from taxes are called for in scraps of speeches. It would be interesting to see more of how one group of teenagers reacts to these issues, one that affects them much more immediately than the other.

When Gavin Newson, the real governor of California, shows up, he also stays away from politics and only encourages them to be the leaders we need.

There are compelling characters and telling moments. We met a young woman who bravely showed up as the lone delegate from her district, which has just experienced both a mass shooting and a devastating wildfire. We spend some time with the reigning youth governor, who displays impressive dignity and grace, especially when consoling a candidate after a serious setback. An earnest young man describes himself as “not a Republican or a Democrat, a conservative.” He shows his commitment to party integrity (the parties are randomly assigned and then party members develop their platforms) when he discovers that some of his party’s members are posting vile white nationalist messages through an anonymous account, including anti-Semitic comments about their party’s candidate . He and another member of the party set up a catfishing scheme to identify the people involved. They triumph when the perpetrators are expelled. And they get to give them what Paddington would call a hard look when they see them leave the show.

But most of the time is spent on the three finalists for Youth Governor, their tactics and their challenges. One is something of a young Kennedy, at least on the surface. An athlete, he commands the room with confidence and easy grace. He spends his final one-minute speech on stage thanking everyone and telling them, “It’s not about me; it’s about you!” Another is the Elizabeth Warren of the candidates, who always has a handle on the facts and figures and her proposed solutions. She struggles to reconcile her progressive views with the more conservative members of her party. The third is son of immigrant parents who has proudly reclaimed his ethnic first name after adopting something more “American” in middle school. He has to learn one of the most painful tasks of electoral politics – bouncing back from an unfortunate shot. Students’ social media prowess leading to mudslinging meme attacks that quickly go viral.

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