A would-be satire with nothing much to say, “Democracy at Work” applies the can-do spirit common in grassroots political campaigning and indie filmmaking to a lackluster concept and flimsy narrative. Billing itself rather presumptuously as ” ‘In the Loop’ meets ‘Clerks,’ ” the debut film of Detroit-born writer-director Wasko Khouri confuses stale vulgarity with biting wit and basic sociopolitical knowledge with keen insight. Shot in black-and-white on a shoestring budget, nonpartisan “Democracy” is neither flashy nor substantive enough to swing any undecided viewers its way.
In the strongest of three interlocking stories, small-time campaign manager Ted Float (Michael Scovotti) learns that a potentially damaging rumor about his candidate is about to break online five days before the election. As a sample of the film’s comedic stylings, the candidate is nicknamed Dick, and he’s running in District 69. Meanwhile, timid talkradio host Steven Mime (Sean Spence) is forced to change his just-the-facts program “In Moderation” on WHOR radio to a more provocative conservative-vs.-liberal format called “From All Sides.” In the most irritating thread, lascivious windbag dentist Dr. Mike (Marty Lodge) feigns political independence to distract patients from his overactive libido.