Luke Walker | 
Australia/US |
 2017 | 
83 minutes


Political junkies will enjoy this light-hearted look into the political campaign of Dr. Ben Carson, who briefly polled ahead of Donald Trump in 2015, and sought to define himself as the anti-establishment candidate who appealed to “real people.” How times have changed. Examining this head-scratching disaster of a campaign is a brief but welcome diversion from the unlikely success of another bizarre American political campaign. As the question of how one of these men actually succeeded simmers under the surface throughout the film, Trump remains the elephant in the room.

PACmen focuses on two super PACs that persuaded Carson to run for the Republican nomination, and then teamed up to bolster outside funding for the retired neurosurgeon. The film is an all-access look at the campaign trail, and is just as much about the army of staff and low-level volunteers, as it is about the high-flying fundraisers. Both the businessmen and passionate rank and file believe Carson has been chosen by God, and the film is full of prayer vigils and call-in shows asking Jesus to lift any witchcraft or curses being used by their enemies. The supporters then struggle with the question of why God turned his back on them — did they do something wrong?

Carson continues to be a newsmaker — he originally declined to join Trump’s cabinet, citing his lack of political experience, apparently the same kind of experience he did not think was necessary in order to run for Presidential office. In his first remarks to HUD staff, he referred to enslaved Africans as ‘immigrants’ to the United States. As a surgeon, Ben Carson attributed all of his achievements to the will of God. With Carson as a politician, one might well ask what was God thinking? -KR