You know, "it doesn't go far enough" is a criticism you hear all too often these days. Especially when it comes to movies about the Iraq war, or the current administration. Because let's face it, movies more and more are being affected by politics. Some of you might have noticed it in the go-go 90s with movies like Dave, Murder at 1600, or Absolute Power having to do with the president's mistress. Don't you miss those days?
Nowadays, if a movie doesn't get the President impeached, it's no good. For example, in Revenge of the Sith, when Mace Windu says that the one dude controls the Senate and the courts. Nothin'! And critics said that Charlie Wilson's War wasn't enough of a biting satire. In the Valley of Elah doesn't go far enough into the valley. Rendition didn't torture enough. Lions for Lambs, well, I guess that one went too far.
And so here we are, and we got W. Man, this President can't even have a #1 hit. Critics have called it a TV-movie quality production, which I think is unfair. Still, I couldn't help but think of The Final Cut, where crowds protest that people's recorded lives can be so sanitized, that the worst war criminal's life can be edited to make him or her look like a saint. That's what I think we got here, folks. Bush family lite. They don't seem so bad in this movie, but trust me, they're not good people. Even for a rich family they're pretty scrummy.
Ollie's assembled a fine cast, nevertheless. Thandie Newton was a hoot. Toby Jones did better as a strangely underweight Karl Rove than I thought: he may be Turd Blossom, but he has one Johnny Casper moment, where he tells Dubya "That's right, Dubya. You're the big shot around here, and I'm just some shnook who likes to get slapped around." Something like that. And of course James Cromwell as the elder Bush. Guess they couldn't get Dana Carvey. Oh well. Dare I say, Oscar nominations? Probably not as many as Network, but whaddayagonna do.
And the man, Josh Brolin, holds his own and holds the film together as George W. Bush. A man forever doomed to live the life of the family's black sheep. Oh, why couldn't you be more like Neil? I guess that's about all one can say... at least, I can say. The film seemed a little long, especially after Cheney's big scene in the middle of the film: Dubya may not be a smart man, but even he knows it's a bad idea for Cheney to say what's on his mind. Kinda kills the mood in the room. After that point, we get the idea. Dubya screws up, father intervenes. Gets kinda monotonous after a while.
I guess the critics are right when they say it's Dubya's greatest hits, just slightly out of context. I've seen that clip so many times of what's been called the 16 words that changed everything. Brolin shoulda studied that one extra close: "...Saddam sought significant quantities of uranium... from Africa." So many quotes left to include, like the dictatorship one, or the one where Dubya says "Some call you the elites, I call you my base." Or when he's sitting there reading My Pet Goat on 9/11. Or when he said "The unexamined life is really not worth living". No wait, that was Socrates. But all the high-end reviews of W. are going to have this line in it, trust me!
Yes, compared to JFK and Nixon, Stone rounds out his Presidential Trilogy with a bit of a whimper, but I guess it fits the subject matter well enough. I guess it was just bad timing: why go to the theaters to pay to see something people are trying to ignore for free? But I'm sure Oliver Stone will work again. Coming up next: he will complete the Presidential Quartet with LBJ starring Steven Seagal. Also, he's going to beat the Farrellys to the punch with his own Three Stooges pic. The cast? Al Pacino as Moe, Charles Barkley as Curly, and perhaps most controversial, Steven Wright as Larry. Fingers crossed for Bill Maher as Shemp!... I gotta go.
p.s. oh yeah, forgot the star rating. I'll say,
-so sayeth the Movie Hooligan
p.p.s. Good article on John McCain, but it probably won't change your mind.