User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 19
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 19
  3. Negative: 3 out of 19

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  1. JeffL.
    Oct 20, 2004
    10
    Substantive, well-made, surprisingly moving documentary about the Vietnam-era experiences of the man who would one day seek the Presidency. Like many young men of his generation, Kerry was inspired to service by John F. Kennedy's exhortation to "ask what you can do for your country." Kerry's brave and honorable service, however, also made him a witness to U. S. policies he Substantive, well-made, surprisingly moving documentary about the Vietnam-era experiences of the man who would one day seek the Presidency. Like many young men of his generation, Kerry was inspired to service by John F. Kennedy's exhortation to "ask what you can do for your country." Kerry's brave and honorable service, however, also made him a witness to U. S. policies he considered abhorrent, leading to his opposition to the war when he returned home. Perhaps the most gripping parts of the film are dedicated to his work as a founder of the group Vietnam Veterans Against the War, a position which earned him praise from the left, TV interviews with the likes of Dick Cavett, and the suspicion and ire of the Nixon Administration (who, at one ironic point, fear he may become the next Ralph Nader!) One could simply see this as a perfect rejoinder to those infamous, loathesome "Swift Boat Vets" ads taken out against Kerry's Presidential bid; that would underrate the film, however, because regardless of one's politics, this should simply be viewed as one of the great, essential documentaries (along with the classic Hearts and Minds and the recent Oscar-winner Fog of War) about that particularly incendiary and divisive era of our all-too-recent past. Notably, the film makes little or no mention of Kerry's later political career, with only some still photos at the end filling in some of the blanks. Expand
  2. BBigelow
    Oct 2, 2004
    10
    Moving, poignant and important film that everyone who wishes his opinion of Kerry to be based on the facts and not partisan bias. Kerry deserves our admiration and support - this film reveals his long history of quiet, unwavering and dignified adherence to what is right, and his courageous stand against what was clearly so wrong.
  3. BeauJ.
    Oct 2, 2004
    10
    John Kerry displayed leadership and conviction in his early twenties. This movie will make you question the 'spin' directed at Senator Kerry today. He will make a fine President.
  4. ElaineE.
    Oct 3, 2004
    10
    Having grown up with the Vietnam war, this was painful to relive. However, it is a must see documentary portraying those who spoke truth to power.
  5. CateV.
    Oct 27, 2004
    10
    I was lukewarm on Kerry before but this shows that there is a real, fire-breathing person in there somewhere. I'm definitely off the fence now. Inspiring and heart-breaking. We were all so young. Great for current students.
  6. Amaria
    Oct 30, 2004
    10
    Some view this film as a flambouyant election propaganda. Perhaps it is. But it cannot be helped that there are no skeletons in his closet, no cobwebs in his mind, no poison on his lips, no deception in his heart. Though this movie is much more than a move in the presidential election game -- its a touching narrative of the vietnam & post-vietnam era, and it reminds us of the strength we Some view this film as a flambouyant election propaganda. Perhaps it is. But it cannot be helped that there are no skeletons in his closet, no cobwebs in his mind, no poison on his lips, no deception in his heart. Though this movie is much more than a move in the presidential election game -- its a touching narrative of the vietnam & post-vietnam era, and it reminds us of the strength we Americans have claim to; we had to have been a proud, intelligent and empathic people to have survived such turbulent times. And call it what you will, but as this documentary will show, there is no mistaking that John Kerry was and remains a stand up American. Expand
  7. FrankF.
    Oct 4, 2004
    10
    It brought me back to my teenage years. I'd forgotten how big a d..k Nixon was.
  8. Katy
    Oct 14, 2004
    8
    Moving and thought provoking look at what the Vietnam war was and the climate of our country during those years. The timing of the movie's release is the only thing that made it feel like election-related propaganda. This story is important to watch, regardless of how one feels about Kerry, because the groupthink of the U.S. Government during the early to mid-1970s is something we Moving and thought provoking look at what the Vietnam war was and the climate of our country during those years. The timing of the movie's release is the only thing that made it feel like election-related propaganda. This story is important to watch, regardless of how one feels about Kerry, because the groupthink of the U.S. Government during the early to mid-1970s is something we should conscientiously avoid in the years to come. Very very good film. Expand
  9. StellaS.
    Oct 4, 2004
    10
    A very moving portrait of a man who has served his country well his whole life. This movie make even more clear the utter ridiculousness of the Bush/SBVT charges. This man will be a wonderful president, and I look forward to the Kerry inauguration.
  10. CharlesG.
    Oct 5, 2004
    10
    I was moved to tears on several occasions. I was overwhelmed by the deep love John Kerry has for this country. During the hornet's nest that was Vietnam and the subsequent anti-war movement he was unwavering, passionate and driven while at the same time being contemplative and polite; i.e. the same man he is today. Please see it.
  11. MarkB.
    Oct 18, 2004
    8
    Engrossing, frequently moving documentary by George Butler about Presidential candidate John Kerry's Vietnam and post-Vietnam years that will be seen by one side of the political spectrum as a wholly justifiable attempt to counterbalance the very conveniently-timed negative spin Kerry has gotten on this area of his life, and by the other side as a blatantly propagandistic Engrossing, frequently moving documentary by George Butler about Presidential candidate John Kerry's Vietnam and post-Vietnam years that will be seen by one side of the political spectrum as a wholly justifiable attempt to counterbalance the very conveniently-timed negative spin Kerry has gotten on this area of his life, and by the other side as a blatantly propagandistic movie-length campaign commercial. (And even if it is, so what? At least viewers have to choose to seek it out and watch it, rather than having a perfectly good evening of CSI or Everybody Loves Raymond endlessly interrupted.) Certainly voters of either stripe--and especially the undecideds--can and should embrace this movie for the simple fact that, in the middle of an incredibly dirty and negative election campaign, it dares to make its case by presenting an overwhelmingly positive view of one of the candidates rather than spending most of its time flinging offal at the other. (I may be wrong on this, but I don't think that George W. Bush is even mentioned once.) Perhaps the best reason to appreciate the film is to put politics aside for a couple of hours and enjoy it as an invaluable historical document. One-of-a-kind moments include a Gold Star mother joining Vietnam vets in throwing away her son's medals (or is it ribbons? I get them confused too); a recording of a noticeably threatened and intimidated Richard Nixon and H. R. Haldeman who, in essence, describe the young Kerry as "Damn, this guy's GOOD!" and a Dick Cavett Show faceoff that tracks the early stages of a Luke Skywalker/ Darth Vader conflict between Kerry and fellow vet (and recent bestselling author) John O'Neill. It's interesting that filmmaker Butler's most famous earlier effort was the three decades-old Pumping Iron, the bodybuilding documentary that gave "the Governator" his first widespread notice in America and was the first step in a long road that ended in the usurpation of California's highest office--and could result in that largely Democratic state being delivered gift-wrapped for Bush. I don't know whether Butler is Cathoilic or not, but perhaps Going Upriver is his act of penance. Expand
  12. KimR.
    Sep 24, 2005
    10
    It is September 2005, and I cried at the end of this film from an overwheming sense that we have all made a terrible mistake - this man should be in the White House - as our President.
Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. It underscores, with ample footage from his rallying speeches and his 1971 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, just how important it was for the antiwar movement to be represented by someone like Kerry.
  2. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    60
    Butler is in no way a hot-headed or contentious piece of agit-prop, unlike so many other election year documentaries; like Kerry himself, the film speaks to the mind, not the emotions.
  3. 70
    When it steers away from campaign-ad testimonials and considers Kerry's moral awakening in Vietnam and beyond, Going Upriver features some tremendously powerful scenes.