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he family Thanksgiving dinner can be a tricky time as many, and not necessarily, compatible personalities and opinions converge over a table groaning with too much food. In the current, and fraught, political climate, that is even more true. Ike Barniholtz, writer/director/co-star of THE OATH, took that idea and made a film that will help. Thanking him for a gift that can help us cope was the first thing I said Barinholtz plays Chris, a decent, progressive member of the upper middle-class who finds himself faced with an ethical dilemma. The government in a United States of the not too distant future has asked its adult citizens to sign a loyalty oath. The wording is innocuous enough, not unlike what the president recites when taking the oath of his office, but Chris sees dark parallels with the 1950s Red Scare, and refuses to sign. So does his wife, played by Tiffany Hadish. Alas, his family is not on board, particularly his brother (played by Barinholz’s real-life brother, Jon) and his alt-right girlfriend.
The usual drama of the Thanksgiving meal becomes heightened, especially when government agents arrive on the scene, without a warrant, and want Chris to take a ride with them. The wildly inappropriate, but irresistible, humor is black, edgy, and cuts like a scalpel as it lays bare the self-righteousness of the both the extreme right and left. The film co-stars Carrie Brownstein, John Cho, Nora Dunn, Meredith Hagner, Billy Magnussen, Jay Duplass, Chris Ellis, Priah Ferguson and Max Greenfield.
Barinholtz’s previous work includes television’s The Mindy Project and Eastbound and Down.