‘We’re Here to Help’ reviews and links

Note: this post originally appeared on ‘Douglas to Dancing’, a blog I maintained from 2007-9 on the ACT New Zealand political party. The blog was an extension of the thesis I wrote about the Act Party in 2007, From Douglas to Dancing: explaining the lack of success of ACT New Zealand and evaluating its future prospects (PDF).

I keep meaning to write a fuller post on Craig Heatley, seeing he generated some discussion in the comments in a post a few days ago. Until I get around to that, here are some reviews and links of We’re Here to Help. I still haven’t seen the film yet, but hope to do so soon. The reviews I have found are universally positive and usually take the view that the film is non-partisan and is a classic example of the proverbial “little guy” taking on the big guns and winning.

For example, back in October, David Farrar of Kiwiblog fame wrote one of the first reviews:

It wasn’t really an anti IRD film. They showed some good guys from the IRD also. It was a film really about bullies, and abuse of power. At times a sad film as Henderson is bankrupted and his partner leaves him. And finally a film with a wicked ending as we see the IRD Head Office in Christchurch renamed Henderson House. Definitely worth going to.

Also a few weeks ago, Deborah Coddington managed to turn her Herald on Sunday column on Henderson into a diatribe against Al Gore:

In England the liberals decided An Inconvenient Truth should be screened in every school to teach pupils about global warming, until a rational judge ordered accompanying riders to point out the film’s big green lies. In New Zealand, the film of Henderson’s fight should be freely screened as an inspiration to youngsters to challenge authority, especially when it comes in the name of government and is here to help.The big difference between these two films is that Henderson’s, scarily, is true, whereas Al Gore’s should have received the Nobel Prize for fiction. But all is not lost, I hear the Nobel committee is about to receive a growling from Dr Muriel Newman, who’s written telling them to withdraw the award. They should, in Henderson’s words, be very afraid.

I like this bit from Coddington, not because of what she says about Henderson, but because of her disparaging use of the term “liberal”. In my dissertation, I looked at the confusion caused by ACT’s use of the term liberal in its tagline “The Liberal Party”. ACT intended this to indicate the classical liberal sense, but many people (and from the above quotation, Coddington herself) would interpret it in the American fashion and equate it with “left-wing”. One of the first real reviews was published in today’s Sunday Star-Times (read it now, before good old Fairfax shifts it to its walled and locked garden), which is a little less enthusiastic about the film, giving it 3 stars:

Doubtless it’s pretty much as it happened (Henderson began taping meetings), but I wondered if it was less Kafkaesque than Keystone Komptrollers: Henderson sent in a sexy woman for a refund; IRD guy tried to flirt but messed it up; Henderson made a threat; IRD bods thought he’s a developer, how many aren’t dodgy?; IRD started fishing. Petty revenge, then incompetence, delay and cover-up. Sounds like a tragedy in the making. THE PITCH: We’re here to hinder. WATCH OUT FOR: Hurst’s fat suit.

Michael Hurst, of course, plays Rodney Hide.And in Saturday’s Otago Daily Times (10/11/07, p. 56, not online), reviewer Christine Powley gives the film 5 stars:

In an American movie, there would be the courtroom scene where Julia Roberts stands up and says you can not do this to this good man, remember truth, puppy dogs and the American way. Everyone would have a good weep and the crusty old judge would dismiss the charges. Here, Dave is a stubborn battler who refuses to do the sensible thing and give in. He knows he has done nothing wrong and he will not let up until the tax department admits it. Watching him fight The Man is good fun.

For a backgrounder on the film, check out the New Zealand Herald story: Man’s battle with Inland Revenue becomes taxpayer-funded movie.

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