”The U.S. vs. John Lennon,” a new talking-head and archival-video documentary better suited for VH1 (which helped to produce it) than for the big screen, makes the case that, in just about every way that counted, Lennon was a better person than Richard M. Nixon.
That very few people are likely to need persuading on this point is something of a problem. Lennon’s status as one of the most beloved popular musicians of recent memory, and one of the best-known cultural figures of the past half-century, leaves the movie with little to do but add its sometimes sanctimonious voice to the chorus of praise and admiration.
Luckily, even 26 years after his death, Lennon is a lively enough presence to keep the sentimentality somewhat in check. A great songwriter and a nimble exploiter of his own celebrity, he was also a pretty terrific television talk show guest: witty, engaged and passionate about his beliefs without being pompous about it.