Several reviews of The Ides of March are putting first things first. While Ides of March is a political drama and director/co-star/co-screenwriter George Clooney is a card-carrying liberal Democrat, it is not a movie that attacks Republicans or conservatives. All of the leading characters are Democrats and liberals. Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times even alerts Republicans that is not a puff piece for liberals, either "This is too bleak a world for anyone to come off as completely heroic." While praising The Script ("ingenious") and the performances ("the movie's main strength"), Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times points out that Ides of March "really reveals no new information." It's actually, he says, "more about the nature of modern media politics, and younger players who are strangers to idealism." Several critics, including Ebert, suggest that Clooney's own idealism is front and center in the movie and that he appears to be driving home arguments about the political process that most members of his audience probably already share. Says A.O. Scott in The New York Times "It makes its points carefully and unimpeachably but does not bring much in the way of insight or risk. Powerful men often treat women as sexual playthings. Reporters do not always get things right. Politicians sometimes lie. If any of that sounds like news to you, then you may well find The Ides of March downright electrifying," Scott comments. Likewise, Joe Morgenstern remarks in the Wall Street Journal "The problem is that the news the story brings may be perfectly accurate, but it isn't particularly original, and it's certainly not what we hunger for in these dispiriting, cynical times. Almost everyone in politics, the film tells us, has feet, plus brains and other vital organs, of clay." Clooney, writes Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News , "seems to have had a crisis of confidence -- not in himself, but in his audience. That's too bad, because he's got the makings of a great movie here one that represents our politically surreal times with keen insight and appropriate cynicism." On the other hand, Claudia Puig in USA Today points out that Clooney and his cohorts probably never intended to offer a new take on American politics. "The all-too-familiar blend of hubris and lust for power makes the machinations no less poisonous and perhaps more regrettable for their sad predictability." And Lou Lumenick in the New York Post says that while there's really nothing shocking about the film's take on politics, "It's Nevertheless still smart and solidly entertaining."
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This lively romp is entertaining enough to amuse the audience even when it veers off the rails.