Gary Sinise tells off Howard Dean: The ‘American Sniper’ flaps still haven’t ended

In this image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Bradley Cooper appears in a scene from “American Sniper.” (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Keith Bernstein)

The box-office success of
“American Sniper” continued in its second weekend of wide distribution, with $64.4 million in ticket sales. That’s on top of the estimated $107.2 million the Clint Eastwood film took in the previous weekend.

The movie, based on Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s life and four combat deployments to Iraq, is a massive commercial success. But the reaction to it — already inflamed — has become even more polarized, as celebrities, pundits and veterans all continue to weigh in (and sometimes respond to each other).

The latest flap erupted following comments by former Gov. Howard Dean (D.-Vt.) on Friday night. They came on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” in which the show’s host ripped the movie for its lack moral ambiguity and Kyle for writing previously that he didn’t care about Iraq and hated the “savages” there.

“‘Hurt Locker’ made $17 million because it was a little ambiguous and thoughtful,” Maher said, citing the opening weekend sales of another Iraq War filmed released in 2008. “And this one is just ‘American hero. He’s a psychopath patriot, and we love him.’”

Dean said Maher had made a “very interesting point.”

“There’s a lot of anger in this country, and the people who go see this movie are people who are very angry,” Dean said. “And this guy basically says ‘I’m going to fight on your side.’ … I bet you if you looked at a cross-section of the Tea Party and the people who go to see this movie, there’s a lot of intersection.”

That prompted a reaction today from actor veterans advocate Gary Sinise that has gone viral. He noted that he has seen the movie, and does not consider himself to be angry person.

“You certainly have a right to make stupid blanket statements, suggesting that all people who see this film are angry, but how is that helpful sir?” Sinise wrote, on the celebrity website WhoSay. “Do you also suggest that everyone at Warner Brothers is angry because they released the film? That Clint Eastwood, Jason Hall, Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller and the rest of the cast and crew are angry because they made the film? Chris Kyle’s story deserved to be told.”

Sinise continued that the movie shows how the stress of multiple deployments affected Kyle’s family, which is “a family representative of thousands of military families.”

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