W. – A Movie Review

 Culture, Movies, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on W. – A Movie Review
Feb 232009

W Movie PosterW. takes viewers through Bush’s eventful life — his struggles and triumphs, how he found both his wife and his faith, and of course the critical days leading up to Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Biopic and Politics/Religion; Running Time: 2 hrs. 11 min.; Release Date: October 17th, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language including sexual references, some alcohol abuse, smoking and brief disturbing war images.

Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn, Thandie Newton

Directed by: Oliver Stone

Produced by: Elliot Ferwerda, Albert Yeung, Matthew Street

Lay and I watched this movie at home on DVD last weekend. It was more interesting than I expected. The film hopscotches through Bush’s life in an effort to compile all the seminal moments. Because of the number of “events” the film attempts to chronicle, this just all happens too fast.

Brolin, though he doesn’t look that much like W., creates a memorable character that might be W. with vitality in his certitude and confusion. The same goes for Cromwell, playing H.W. Bush,  who catches the patient, patrician nature of a family scion. Richard Dreyfuss is scary good as a Machiavellian Cheney. Wright’s Powell and Toby Jones’ Karl Rove are dead-on. Yet Glenn doesn’t quite get the smugness of the former secretary of defense. Ellen Burstyn doesn’t seem to know what to do with Barbara Bush, but has only one or two minor appearances.

We come into the story with a bull session in the Oval Office with speechwriters and top advisers that produced W.’s “Axis of Evil” speech about Iran, Iraq and North Korea.Here we are introduced to  Brolin as W., Dreyfuss’ as a dark  Dick Cheney lurking in the corner, Thandie Newton’s Condoleezza Rice, Scott Glenn’s Donald Rumsfeld and Jeffrey Wright’s Colin Powell. They all hit their parts well as they act, bluster and argue just like we thought they would — only they seem like figures in a wax museum. As one reviewer put it, “It comes perilously close to a Saturday Night Live sketch.”

A critic for the Hollywood Reporter wrote:

“W.” is not really a political movie per se; rather, it’s a movie about a man who went into politics but probably shouldn’t have. It’s about how a father can misread a son, how a son can suffer in the shadow of a famous dad and how temperament gets molded by events both internal and external.

I loved reading the viewer reviews on Yahoo Movies. Clearly people viewed the movie through the lense of their political persuasion. The user reviews had titles like: “Pointless Leftist Drivel;” “The liberal dumbocrats at it again;” and my personal favorite:

How Dare HE!
I cannot believe that a man would openly mock a sitting president, and a christian one at that!!!

Stone put up a website listing his sources for the events portrayed in the film, and I thought that W.’s “to-the-manor-born” arrogance came through well enough for me the find the film believable. And if the wingnuts are so up in arms about it, I’m guessing it hits too close to home for them, so I like the politics.

What I would say is that it showcases some decent acting with a mediocre script. It probably want have a lot of historical significance, as it will be many years before the final truth of this man and his administration comes out. Until then, we’ll have to settle for some “truthiness.”

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