The New York Times on Friday finally deigned to review the movie “Atlas Shrugged,” based on the novel by Ayn Rand, a heroine to libertarians and objectivists in particular. New critic Carina Chocano (like the rest of the critics, who weighed in two weeks ago) was scathing on the movie’s flaws and clearly disdained its politics: “A Utopian Society Made Up of Business Moguls in Fedoras.”
Could anyone have guessed, way back when it was published in 1957, that “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand’s grandiloquent doorstop of a masterwork, would one day reach the big screen as high-camp comedy? Because stilted prose and silly plotting notwithstanding, Rand’s unrelentingly popular book has exerted a powerful ideological hold on the culture, an influence that has only intensified in recent years with the emergence of the Tea Party. Still, for unintentional yet somehow boring hilarity, the novel can’t touch the cinematic adaptation, which shifts the action to 2016 and presents Rand’s ham-fisted fable of laissez-faire capitalism as something C-Span might make if it ever set out to create a futuristic, proto-libertarian nighttime soap. In the 1980s.