Certain films inevitably reveal overt agendas in their writing, style, and construction, and it is arguable that nothing is more fatal to the creation of a genuinely good movie. Film is story-telling, no matter the complexity of the medium, and the story that broadcasts its “message” blatantly violates a basic premise of all fiction. It vastly weakens its own agenda through an insistence on informing the audience of what effect is anticipated upon its delivery. A prime example of this kind of adolescent filmmaking is 1993’s Falling Down, directed by Joel Schumacher, written by Ebbe Roe Smith, and starring Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall. This is a movie by no means lacking in “messages”; on the contrary, it is virtually all message, and it relies on sensationalism and expected viewer empathy to carry off essentially clumsy and juvenile scenes of action and reaction. Moreover, the film errs in a broader way, in that it seeks to convey ambiguity, thus excusing itself from asserting any particular point of view. Falling Down is not without some merit. Several performances are excellent, the atmosphere of the time and place are presented authentically, and there is even an arc of tension. These virtues notwithstanding, however, the film is an unsatisfying form of equivocal propaganda, and it cannot rise above the cartoon-like scenarios it offers. Most importantly, Falling Down leaves the viewer with a decidedly adolescent taste in the mouth. The dialogue and story, more exactly, are rebel fantasy thinly disguised as social commentary, as the movie is a transparent attempt to elicit audience identification – and laughter – from situations which, in life, would be horrific and appalling.