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02 Jan 2017

Home Video Review: Netflix's 'Barry,' a Drama About a Young Obama, Is a Total Dud

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Devon Terrell in Barry. Devon Terrell in Barry. Courtesy of Netflix

Barry is the second film released in 2016 to depict a young Barack Obama—and it’s not nearly as good as the first (Southside With You).

Devon Terrell makes his screen debut as Barry (Barack) Obama, a young man introducing himself to New York City and Columbia University back in 1981. Director Vikram Gandhi shows the young Barry smoking a lot, drinking bad beer and sharing his weed. (We don’t actually see him smoking weed, although a friend takes one of his joints out of an ashtray.) The movie establishes Barry as a normal college kid trying to fit in.

One of the film’s main subplots is his romance with a fellow student named Charlotte (Anya Taylor-Joy). All this subplot does is make young Barry look like a total douchebag, as he leads on a perfectly nice girl who loved him, and leaves her stranded at a family wedding. It would be one thing if this girl actually existed, but she didn’t, so it seems a bit odd to make Obama the center of a complicated young-romance story that plays out in the most stereotypical of ways. Despite a good performance from Taylor-Joy, it’s also boring.

Blame Gandhi, who gives the movie a sleepy pace and no true sense of direction, for this film’s failure.

Barry is currently streaming on Netflix. 

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