Picks and Pans Review: Spinning Boris

updated 03/22/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/22/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

Showtime (Sun., March 14, 8 p.m. ET)

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Consultants aren't often the heroes in political movies; they're typically shown urging candidates to sell their souls. But the image-makers are the good guys in this one because they're Yanks in Moscow who crack wise under stress.

Spinning Boris concerns the stealthy but vital role of American advisers George Gorton (Jeff Goldblum), Dick Dresner (Without a Trace's Anthony LaPaglia) and Joe Shumate (Liev Schreiber) in the 1996 reelection of Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The film doesn't seem especially timely, given that Yeltsin has been out of office for more than four years. And we're supposed to see Yeltsin's come-from-behind victory as key to the survival of Russian democracy, yet we can't forget that his chosen successor, Vladimir Putin, has shown markedly authoritarian tendencies.

Still, Goldblum's in his glory as Gorton (now a strategist for California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger). His tongue is glib and his charm slippery, but that "trust me" look in his eyes wins over Tatiana (Svetlana Efremova), Yeltsin's daughter and right hand. Who could vote no on this guy?


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