"The Insurrection" by John Waters is one of the movies that my husband and I watch at least once a week. We enjoy it both because of the satire and because it's fun to see Waters play out one of his more bizarre characters. And I guess I like Waters' oeuvre, all his "Pink Flamingos," "Chungking Express," and "Carnivale," because "The Insurrection" comes from a part of the world we know so well and it's funny, sad, gross, very funny, and very sad all at the same time. (The "Carnivale" movie I still watch every month, a few months after we bought the first one. We had just gotten it because it was playing in Chicago, but we watched it anyway).
Of course the bulk of my interest in John Waters' movies is rooted in the satire aspect. In addition to being a master satirist himself, Waters is one of the most original comedians around, constantly turning the topic of sex, marriage, homosexuality, sex, porn, reality, religion, and his love of drinking and partying into world-class comedy. (We don't have cable television in my house, so I only get to see a tiny portion of the world and John Waters has spent his whole career getting to know our small world.)
But one of the things that appeals to me about the movies is the social commentary that Waters seems to put so much thought into. At least, I hope he does, but sometimes it seems as if he's not really concerned with telling you about what's going on in the world, but rather he's more interested in telling you about how he can write about it.
In this particular case, "The Insurrection" is really about what's going on in the present day; or, at least it starts off as that. Once Waters sets his movie inside a hotel and invites every male member of staff to sleep with him and then we cut to scenes in which various characters are having sexual intercourse, but mostly it's about a group of women getting together to do the same thing that all the men are doing while he is out getting drunk.
The rest of the movie centers around Waters obsessing over all of the different social and political issues that keep popping up, like the fact that the U.S. has too many people living in prison or about the way that women are treated. Or that the public, or the men at least, prefer working for men. Or that, for the most part, women are treated better in the workplace than men are. Sometimes all these issues come together to create a certain kind of humor, as in the final scene where it's clear that Waters is just very upset with a certain kind of culture, and not just any culture but the very patriarchal culture he lives in and loves to mock, only it turns out to be "sexist" or otherwise unjustified in its actions.
The lesson "The Insurrection" is trying to teach us about how quickly you can have false consciousness, when you begin to believe that things are much different than they actually are. But the movie isn't really about all this. It's just a little piece of it is a powerful piece of art because of that. Even though it doesn't go out of its way to say anything about anything at all, the film is directed by John Waters himself, who knows the kind of humor that he likes to do and is very good at using it.
This might just be the case with "The Insurrection." But I find myself looking forward to Waters' other movies because they seem to deal with real social issues. I always expect a lot from Waters movies, but I am truly surprised to see them.
Overall, I think "The Insurrection" is one of the best films by John Waters. It's great fun to watch and would make a great gift for the film lover in your life, as well as a satisfying, if weird, night at the movies.