What might have been a pertinent, evenhanded examination of the notion of free speech on today’s college campuses wastes little time in exposing an overwhelmingly right-leaning bias in the disappointingly sensationalistic agitprop that is “No Safe Spaces.”
Built around a cross-country speaking tour pairing conservative commentator Dennis Prager and comedian Adam Carolla, the documentary takes aim at identity politics, which it charges are eroding First Amendment rights.
Originally spurred by civil-rights protests and opposition to the Vietnam War, the free-speech movement would reach far beyond the halls of Berkeley, establishing “safe spaces” for the marginalized to gather without fear of harassment.
Cue a parade of those whose recent college-speaking engagements were subsequently terminated, including Ann Coulter, Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos, while the likes of Tim Allen and Candace Owens weigh on in the current cancel-culture climate.
Among those passed off as representing the liberal side of the debate, meanwhile, are attorney and Trump defender Alan Dershowitz and libertarian-leaning YouTube personality Dave Rubin.
As strategized by director Justin Folk and writer John Sullivan (“2016: Obama’s America”), it all plays out against a forebodingly melodramatic score, interspersed with smug animated sequences, including a “Schoolhouse Rock” knockoff in which a singing Bill of Rights is gunned down.
Ironically, for a film dealing with freedom of speech, one side seems to be doing all the talking.
“No Safe Spaces,” a documentary directed by Justin Folk, from a screenplay by John Sullivan. 95 minutes. Rated PG-13 for some language and brief violence. Opens Dec. 6 at multiple theaters. The Los Angeles Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.