Saturday, February 28, 2009

W. (2008)

This is your life, George W. Bush! This is a satirical retrospective of the life and political career of George W. Bush (Josh Brolin). It shows his path as a young man that generated all sorts of troubles for his family, then becoming "born again" and rising to Govenor of Texas and eventually landing the head job at the White House. All of the key players are here: Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss), George H. W. Bush (James Cromwell), Laura Bush (Elizabeth Banks) and Condoleezza Rice (Thandie Newton).

Movie Poster

I expected this movie to be a complete smear job on Bush. I mean, come on, it was written and directed by Oliver Stone and who isn't easier to make fun of than our former president? I have to say that Stone showed a tremendous amount of restraint here. I wasn't sure that I could stand an entire movie about grinding one man into the ground. No matter how much he might truly deserve it. I was surprised that Stone made his point, but didn't really pull any dirty punches. In fact, Stone did a tremendous job of actually humanizing Dubya. Bush is portrayed as an average Joe with good intentions of leading his country and making his father proud. Unfortunately, he simply wasn't competent for the job and he wasn't insightful enough to realize that small fact. Bush had Cheney in the background pulling the strings to make the puppet dance while the megalomaniac (Cheney) plots to take over the world's oil supply. Given his self-serving, corrupt administration, Bush was doomed to fail and he was too incompetent to even realize he was being used. It really is enough to make you kinda feel sorry for the guy. Kinda. That was quite the surprise coming from Stone.

I was also glad to see Colin Powell somewhat redeemed as the only sane voice that spoke up against a war without any proof of WMD, even if he later caved to do what the administration wanted him to do. That was an important point to add in and Stone did show that in the movie.

The performances, for the most part, were really amazing. Josh Brolin did a great job and had everything about Dubya down. He did a brilliant job. I was amazed by how they took Thandie Newton and literally turned her into Condi. Her looks and mannerisms were riotous. I think my biggest casting/performance disappointment was James Cromwell as Daddy Bush. He just didn't seem to fit at all. I don't know what they were thinking behind that choice.

Political satire, especially in a biography format of a figure so recent, is really hard to pull off. I didn't expect this to work as well as it did. I couldn't believe they actually made me feel sorry for Bush, but they did. Well, a little. They also took all this heavy material and turned a good part of it into entertaining satire that was actually interesting and funny. This movie was really well done given all the ways it could have gone wrong. I definitely enjoyed watching it, but I don't know if everyone would. The lefties will probably find it amusing and surprising how they feel about Bush as a person, afterwards. The righties will probably just get angry. Given that guide, follow your gut as far as if you should watch this one or not.

1 comment:

Jennythenipper said...

I have added this to my Netflix queue. It looked intriguing when it came out. I enjoyed the one done about Clinton (With Emma Thomson as Hilary!)

I agree though, this seemed like it would be difficult. I usually don't like Oliver Stone too much. He has a leaden touch I think. Why say something with subtlety when you can hammer it home? Then again, I haven't seen one of his movies in more than a decade, so I'm a bout due.