Chappaquiddick Movie Review


Haley Borowy, Staff Writer

For the most part, the only people in the theater were alive when Ted Kennedy made the worst mistake of his life. Usually, when only middle-aged or old people are watching the movie I’ve come to review, I know it’s not for my demographic and my subconscious is already telling me I won’t like it.

However, the mind can be wrong, as it was here.

Chappaquiddick is directed by John Curran, and has the talents of Jason Clark as the last remaining Kennedy brother with Ed Helms as Joe Gargan, his adoptive cousin and lawyer, and comedian Jim Gaffigan as Paul Markman, the then-U.S Attorney General for Massachusetts and family friend.

The incident is both before and after Ted Kennedy drives off a small bridge on the island of Chappaquiddick, Cape Cod, allowing him to escape a watery death. This all happened in 1969, after the assassination of his brother, Bobby, in 1968. While Kennedy survives the accident, tthe passenger and former campaign aide to Bobby Kennedy, Mary Jo Kopechne, dies. From the party in a cabin beforehand to a processed, ingenuine televised speech several days after, the film follows the events that didn’t destroy the political career of the last Kennedy brother.

Every actor and actress does a spectacular job. From drowning in a car to convincing Ted to lie to the press, the widespread variety of actions show the variety of characters involved. Dialogue seems genuine, as do actions that characters take that aren’t necessarily totally proven by history.

What is most surprising are the performances by Ed Helms (who I personally loved on The Office) and comedian Jim Gaffigan. Comedic actors taking serious roles can be absolutely awful, wooden, serviceable, or great. Both talented men fall into the latter category, and the movie is much better for it.

The scenery, music and cinematography are serviceable; there’s no glaring issues or bland shots. And yet, it’s just that: serviceable. Nothing too grand to blow your mind and nothing that makes you writhe in either agony or boredom.

I’d say if you’re fawning over any of the actors, it’d be an interesting watch. If you or your family are interested in history, politics or the Kennedy “curse,” it’s also likely to entertain you. Otherwise, this movie and its content could be hit-or-miss for the average high-schooler.