Saturday, October 18, 2008

Movie Review: W.

Synopsis: W. covers the time from G.W. Bush’s college years at Yale (1966) through 2004. We see him winning the dubious honor of reciting the nicknames of frat brothers while marinating in screwdriver mix, drunkenly driving a car onto his poppy’s lawn and getting into a fight with said poppy, knocking up a girl, getting fired from an oil field, and generally failing at every task his poppy gives him. We get it, as if we didn’t already know, he is a loser. Meanwhile, his brother Jeb, is making great grades and earning accolades at whatever he tries. An Oedipal relationship is suggested between W and his dad. Eventually, W, or Junior as he detests being called, sees the light and is reborn, meets Laura and decides to run for office in congress. He loses. He then runs for governor and wins. The movie includes all your favorite “Bushisms” too. W’s military career and 9/11 are skipped over, but the decision to invade Iraq and its aftermath is covered in great detail. You already know this story if you have read any news whatsoever. Nothing terribly new is revealed; that is if you are of a liberal mindset.

Casting was very well done and all-in-all it is a very strong cast. Especially the supporting cast. Standouts were: Noah Wyle as Don Evans, Jeffrey Wright as Gen. Colin Powell, Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice, Bruce McGill as George Tenant, Stacy Keach as Earle Hudd, Ioan Gruffudd as Tony Blair, Scott Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Dreyfus as Dick Cheney, Rob Corddry as Ari Fleischer, and Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush. All of them were underutilized. I wanted to see very much more of each. However, Elizabeth Banks was too young, pretty and free spirited to play Laura Bush. She needed to be way more uptight to be the Laura I am familiar with. James Cromwell did a great job as George Herbert Walker Bush, but he was too old for the part until the end. Josh Brolin did a super job as George Walker Bush. He sure got the ‘stupid’ down, but we’ve seen him play that role convincingly before in No Country for Old Men. The only problem was, that he was to darn sympathetic. We see him at the end of the movie, in centerfield loosing a long fly ball in the stadium lights while he was dreaming about the war in Iraq ending. The camera zooms in on his eyes. I actually cared what happened to him. Will he catch the ball, or will it go zooming over his head and be a home run?

I have to think that the real George Walker Bush is not nearly that sympathetic a guy. He has to be way more selfish than that, and I don’t think that is the message that Oliver Stone meant for us to get out of this movie. It just can’t be. He shows us a selfish guy throughout this movie. The guy who after visiting disabled veterans, gives ups sweets to honor them. It must be just bad casting that lead me to this improper conclusion.

Generally, watching the movie was like torture. Sure, the casting was great, the acting was great, but essentially what you are watching is a reenactment of painful events you already know in excrutiating detail, if you keep up with the news at all, but it as if you were there (as Walter Cronkite used to intone). I squirmed. Lots. During some parts, I couldn’t wait for it to end. This movie was not made for people like me at all (true liberals). This movie was made for people who don’t know that much about W.’s presidency. You know, the undecided’s. I’d say the first half of it was a comedy and then it wasn’t because the sick bastard got into office. And we Americans have to put a stop to these people who ‘get a calling from god’ from getting into office. It is all we can do. But I already knew that and hopefully so did you. I give it

*** of five stars.


Stan said...

I haven't seen the movie but according to Oliver Stones interviews that I've seen on the late night shows he didn't intend for the movie to be judgemental of Bush. Like you say this movie was made for people who don’t know that much about W’s presidency. Well hell, we've lived and suffered through it! Does it even deal with the fact he wasn't elected but rather "selected" by the supreme court in 2000? And in the 2004 election the shinanagans that took place at the Ohio polling places? Oh well I guess I've watched to many "Frontline" programs on PBS to expect an Oliver Stone movie to answer this. Thanks anyway for the review. I'll wait for it to play on cable.

Sue said...

Nope, it doesn't deal with that at all. It is a good judgment to wait for it on cable.

Doug said...

I'm undecided now (about seeing the movie).

YvesPaul said...

Don't you wish there's a sequel to this movie? lol.

Sue said...

Doug - then you should go see it because you will have a different perspective than other movie goers. You will see it as an Oliver Stone film. I have seen JFK and Nixon and I preferred both to this film. Both were better made films and had more temporal distance between them and the event they described. This one would have benefited from more time having passed I think. Or, if you are just overwhelmingly curious, you have been warned. :)

Paul - very funny. Not!

Doug said...

hmmm. I hated Nixon (I nearly walked out it was so boring) and JFK annoyed me but I was intrigued by it (I'm a sucker [or was] for those JFK conspiracy theories)----I'll end up seeing this one despite my doubts, of course; though it might be on DVD.

Dillinger said...

ok personally I hate politices.
No matter how good or bad a president/prime minister is there going to do some good and screw up the country a bit to. It's a viscious circle.
Now-a-Days it's harder to be praised as a good president slavary is abolished the world wars are gone.
I can't say a president is selfish if you think about it we only see the guy on tv, press speechs and what the reporters and gossip columnists say.
Being from Yale dosn't help the guy ither because of all the conspiracy theorists and there skulls and bones bull crap.
I think outside of his putzy presidential role he's probably just a normal guy who wakes up in the morning and debates over boxers or briefs and weather to have his coffiee before or after his morning piss.

Dillinger said...

and why am I make a political speech.
ugh yes I'm drunkity drunk and posting. Just ignore me.
love you sue