Smile ‘Til it Hurts: The Up With People Story: 4 of 5 stars

Sentinel Staff Writer

They were a national punchline almost from the moment of their birth in 1965. Their “Golly, isn’t life in this great country great and all?” optimism and cornball faux folk-music songs have been mocked for decades. Their most famous alumnus has long declined the chance to talk about her time with them.

But did you know Up With People was started by an ultra-conservative anti-commie religious organization? Do you know how many of these former “radical moderates” describe their years with the group as being in a “cult”?

Smile ‘Til It Hurts is filmmaker Lee Storey’s warts-and-all/laughs-and-all look at the group founded to “counter” the counter-culture of the ‘60s. But even as Storey’s film questions the finances and motivation of those who ran it, it doesn’t shy away from showing this as an organization that did much to break down racial barriers and fuel “Silent Majority” optimism during the darkest days of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

They might not have been able to get Glenn Close to sit down and talk about the group. But by golly they found footage of her at “camp,” embracing the politics, moralism and everything else they were about, way back when, which sort of explains her reluctance today.

Screening at: 9:30 p.m. Sat., Mar. 28, Regal, 4:15 p.m., Thur. April 2, Enzian.