Ralph Nader has been an influential figure in the course of American history through the advocacy of consumer rights. In recent years he has been seen by some as the spoiler for democratic candidates running for president of the United States. In the 2006 film An Unreasonable Man, film makers Henriette Mantel and Steve Skrovan take a look at the history of Nader’s work and try to explain why the man does what he does through with people who know him, his critics, and Nader himself.
We start out in the mid 60’s with the beginning of Nader’s career of taking big business with a look of his fight against GM(General Motors) in auto safety. A long hard fight that includes an apology from GM to Nader for harassment and invasion of piracy. From there we see the formation of groups working on changing of safety laws, who are known as “Nader’s Raiders”. From the “Nader’s Raiders” sprang up many consumer advocacy groups. Along with his accomplishments we a little bit of Nader’s upbringing and the attitudes of the household he grew up in. Soon Nader manages find himself at the side of President Jimmy Carter and trying to pass laws from within the white house. Afterwards we see Nader reforming his methods after the Reagan administration trying to repeal many of the safety laws he had helped form. Losing faith in some of the democratic candidates, Nader decided to run for president. An action he has done since 1992. Leading up to the 2000 election where he earned the title of “spoiler” for being accused of losing the election for Al Gore. This includes losing many of his allies (such as Michael Moore) in his presidential run in 2004. At this point is when the argument if his constant running for president had been hurting his long legacy appears. We see different sides debating Nader’s mentality and why he does what he does.
This documentary seems to be a rather fair view of Ralph Nader. For the most part, many of the facts of his life are though roughly presented. Including many of the small details of his battle for changing laws and about the groups he helped spawn. Along with many facts about his personal life and many opinions about why Nader is very tenacious and unshakable in all endeavors he pursues.
Many of the views on Ralph vary from family and former associates to figures who absolutely hate his presidential run in 2000. Even right wing pundit such as Pat Buchanan is including in the interviews. (Who oddly enough happens to be a friend of Ralph Nader) All speakers I believe are given their fare share of time to explain what they think of Nader. Some even saying that Nader suffers from a huge ego. Many of his former associates depict him as a friendly man who has a very humorous side. The labeling of the speakers in interviews changes depending on the topic being discussed. An example being former associates of his being labeled as “Former Nader’s raiders” as the rise of consumer advocacy is talked about, but then they are labeled by the title of their current employment is. It is also interesting to see the different figures that appear and have affected Nader’s life in some way. Such as his mother having met Prescott Bush (grandfather of George W. Bush) back when he was Senator for Connecticut. The most interesting thing to see is film maker Michael Moore and TV host Bill Maher getting on their knees and begging Nader not to run for president in 2004.
An Unreasonable Man gives us a view of Ralph Nader from pretty much all angles. This is a good balanced view of who Nader is and what he has done. The second disc of the movie’s DVD has extra features that could almost be an entire movie in itself. (Just goes to show you how much material there is on Nader) This is a definite must see how one man has affected the lives of Americans.