Even avid supporters of the current U.S. president may be dumbfounded by the jaw-dropping, head-scratching mess that is “The Obama Effect.” Despite the unassailably good intentions of director/co-writer/star Charles S. Dutton, this amateurish inspirational comedy-drama comes off as a shrill mashup of mixed signals and muddled messaging. Theatrical exposure will be brief, though homevid biz might spike as Election Day approaches.
Dutton plays John Thomas, an African-American insurance salesman who, after suffering a minor heart attack, becomes a fanatical advocate for Barack Obama during the 2008 election. He dons hats and attire plastered with Obama slogans and images, turns his minivan into a campaign poster on wheels, and resigns from his job when his conservative boss (John Diehl) suggests that the workplace should be a politically neutral zone. From time to time, “The Obama Effect” hints that John may be unhinged, as his zealotry threatens his health, alienates his friends and causes him to neglect his family. On the other hand, it’s evidently meant to be good thing when John imagines the occasional visit and pep talk from Obama (professional impersonator Reggie Brown) himself. No, really.