Primary Colors

6.72 h 23 min1998X-RayR
John Travolta leads an all-star cast--including Oscar winners Emma Thompson, Kathy Bates and Billy Bob Thornton--on a wild race to the White House in this savagely funny comedy.
Mike Nichols
John TravoltaEmma ThompsonBilly Bob Thornton
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Kathy BatesAdrian LesterMaura TierneyLarry HagmanDiane LaddPaul GuilfoyleRebecca WalkerCaroline AaronTommy HollisRob ReinerBen JonesJ.C. QuinnAllison JanneyRobert KleinMykelti WilliamsonJames DentonLeontine GuilliardMonique RidgeNed EisenbergBrian MarkinsonGeraldo RiveraCharlie RoseLarry KingO'Neal ComptonKevin CooneyBonnie BartlettCynthia O'NealChelcie RossJohn VargasTony ShalhoubBianca LawsonRobert CicchiniWilliam Stanford DavisHarrison YoungRolando MolinaRoss BenjaminStacy EdwardsKristoffer Ryan WintersSusan KussmanVickilyn ReynoldsRobert SymondsGia CaridesRobert EastonScott BurkholderBill MaherLu ElrodMichael HaleyHenry WoroniczDaryce RichmanRosalie PeckSusan ForristalJames Earl JonesEric BoydTom GriffinNoah Michael LevineDorie NealPete TittlSara Van HornLesa WhittingtonAnthony WintersJordan AncelDara J. BraggMarian CaparrosSophia ChoiMatt CliffordBarbara ConwayKacee DeMasiJames DuMontFreddie Joe FarnsworthPhil FaroudjaAnthony Michael FrederickNicholas M. LoebPolli MagaroJean MartirezGreg McWhorterLarry MendteJohn MilfordChristopher C. MurphyTim MurphyMsaada NiaGary PikeKevin RichardsonRoccoRocco SalataLorna ScottSteve TeamkinLynn WanlassCharlie Weirauch
Michael HaleyMichele ImperatoJonathan D. KraneNeil A. MachlisMike Nichols
NBC Universal
R (Restricted)
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4.5 out of 5 stars

1616 global ratings

  1. 68% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 19% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 8% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Mike GishReviewed in the United States on January 14, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
This is About One of the Best Presidents We Ever Had!
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Unless you saw Frontline's two shows on the life of Bill Clinton then you probably have no idea who he really was or how hard he worked to make our lives better, better than we deserve. Our economy was better under Clinton than any president after him. You'll have to Google that information because they won't let me provide a link.

Yes, he was human, but he genuinely wanted to do good and we vilified him for it like we do all genuinely good people who don't keep a low profile (or we just kill them, like John Lennon, the Kennedys, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, etcetera). Why is it that we don't seem to have a problem with the crooks in high places, is it because we identify more with dishonest people and compare poorly to the honest ones, or because we wish we had what they have no matter how ill-gotten it is?

This movie shows how hard it is for anybody to get into office whether they're good or not; how you have to play hardball if you really want to make it. Yes, it has some funny parts, as does life, but it's not really a comedy.
9 people found this helpful
joel wingReviewed in the United States on August 18, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
A commentary on negative campaigns & the media looking for dirt that has taken over US politics
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Primary Colors was loosely based upon a book written by reporter Joe Klein about Bill Clinton’s first run for president in 1992. Clinton’s role is played by John Travolta as candidate Jack Stanton. The film deals with the negative campaigns that have taken over American politics where candidates spend most of their time attacking and tearing down each other more than dealing with issues and what they hope to achieve. It also covers how the press will investigate every little detail of candidates looking for any signs of dirt that can get ratings and usually leads to the destruction of the politician. The film is thus a critique of what American democracy has become.

The movie deals with these issues in many ways. One is based upon the real story of Gennifer Flowers who had tapes of conversations with Bill Clinton. The second half of the movie is focused upon whether Stanton will go negative and what he’s willing to do. The movie poses the question about what kind of candidate did Stanton want to become. Would he be just like everyone else and tear down his opponents or would he try to stay positive?

The movie does a good job talking about American politics even though there are parts that are overdone. There's also a lot of comedy thrown in to keep it light at moments.
3 people found this helpful
Nick ZegaracReviewed in the United States on October 14, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
Another slap-dash Blu-ray transfer from Universal of a very important black comedy by Mike Nichols.
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Superior political farce by the late Mike Nichols is given very short-shrift on Blu-ray by Universal Home Video. Apart from the fact there are NO chapter stops on this disc and NO extra features - not even a theatrical trailer or production notes (even the DVD version had those!), Uni is still using decade's old digital files, bumped to a 1080p signal. The results are careworn, dull and uninspired with more than a hint of edge enhancement, aliasing and other baked in digital anomalies that could have been resolved by a new 2K or even 4K scan. God forbid, Uni actually put a little effort into their back catalog releases before slapping them to disc. It's 2019. Blu-ray has been around for more than 10 years. This digital transfer has been around for at least 20 and looks it - dull colors, meager contrast, grayish black levels, and grain that waffles from solid to sloppy. Badly done! Judge and buy accordingly.
4 people found this helpful
Martha Ann KennedyReviewed in the United States on August 15, 2016
3.0 out of 5 stars
How is this satire?
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I think there are better films at showing the political corruption of our campaign "system." Bullworth is one; The Candidate with Robert Redford is another -- there are more. This...I guess If I had paid attention back when Clinton was running for office, I might have been able to appreciate this better, possibly have seen the satire...but... No. It was predictable (no, not because I knew the ending) starry eyed young guy gets disillusioned then signs a pact with the devil; long-suffering wife endures horrible marriage for the sake of her own political ambition; down-home, rib-eating horny guy runs for office. What I did like were the references to the 70s and what those times were like and at what cost. That element of this film was very well done. Anyway, maybe there will be Primary Colors Reprise down the road if Mrs. Stanton is elected. Then we can critique that.
4 people found this helpful
keithReviewed in the United States on November 26, 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
Not A Must Watch Movie
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If you like politics. This movie shows how they will try to coverup the politicians dirty while running for office. From the families, friends, and people supporting their campaign. How they will try to win your vote. Also, how they can lose sight of who they once were.
J. LarsenReviewed in the United States on August 14, 2008
4.0 out of 5 stars
A Fun Comedy that Tells the Truth about Politics
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When I saw this film for the first time my Mom and I both busted out laughing hysterically and after getting the DVD and watching it with an opened mind from start to finish, I have to say that this film is definitely relevant for today especially, with the coming election this November. "Primary Colors" is a film that showcases one Senator's long road to the White House and the many pros and cons behind an unforgettable campaign. Based on the Novel that chronicles the bitter secrets of the Bill Clinton era and what happens on the campaign trail, you begin to see just how far people will go to paint the perfect picture of a presidential candidate. As well as, those who will stop at nothing and risk everything to expose the truth behind the dark facade of an aspiring leader of the free world. From tapping cell phone conversations, digging up the dirt on inappropriate relationships to proving that a presidential candidate is not the father of his babysitter's child. These are the kinds of ill moral issues that often go unnoticed by the public when choosing a truly respectable person for president.
Aside from all the dirt and outrageous ploys that go on behind the scenes with desperate and sometimes unorthodox campaign managers and volunteers, the film's actors serve to tell a very compelling story about what lies beneath the deceptively clean cut and celebrity persona of a willing presidential candidate. John Travolta gives an Academy Award winning performance as a cocky and narcissistic smooth operating Bill Clinton AKA "Governor Jack Stanton." And Billy Bob Thornton has his memorable moments on camera using insanely funny metaphors behind closed doors to protect his boss's eroding credibility in the mist of public scandals and other political calamities that often plague the campaign. Amongst everyone else who is involved in cleaning up after a sloppy Governor's mess, Kathy Bates on the other hand will go to any lengths to expose the truth about why someone like Governor Stanton should not become president. Even if it means threatening to blow a man's family jules off with an unloaded gun.
With all the dark humor and political nonsense aside, this film's story serves to shed light behind a very powerful man's political veil and the kind of desperate measures that people will take to ensure the success of a political victory even if it means destroying one's reputation to get at the truth behind an entire curtain of lies and deception. In the end, before you go to the polls and vote for the next president, "Primary Colors" leaves you with one important message about a presidential candidate, as Rupert Thorne in "Batman the animated series" once said, "The Brighter the picture, the darker the Negative."
One person found this helpful
Walter W. WatsonReviewed in the United States on November 6, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Times Don't Seem to Change Much
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I wasn't sure if I'd like this movie - didn't bother to see it when it was first out. Its movie speaks volumes on how some politicians run their candidacy's and the stench of lies and corruption that follow them. The entire cast is great... Kathy Bates is fantastic in her role as the 'fixer'; John Travolta provides a great rendition of you-know-who, Billy Bob (one of my favorite actors of all time) is unforgettable and Adrian Lester delivers a performance that is perfect - loved the delivery of the line about Shane!
2 people found this helpful
CaroleReviewed in the United States on May 11, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
fun movie
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A good movie for those who either like or dislike the Clintons. Just a lot of situations of them being fallable trying to move upward while also wanting to do some good as they gain power. Somewhat like a Greek play with humor and pathos intermixed.
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