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Oliver Stone's W. falls short of expectations

Andrew Dotta

Issue date: 10/17/08 Section: Focus
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I'm a Republican, and I reviewed this movie. For many of you, that'll either be enough reason to stop reading, or a compelling reason to continue reading. How could another political Oliver Stone (Alexander, World Trade Center, Nixon, JFK) film appeal to one of those stupid close-minded Republicans? Well, you're right, in some regard. The film didn't appeal to me. But it won't appeal to liberals either, who may be looking for a possible scathing portrait of the current president. Both Republicans and Democrats, with some confusion, can agree that George W. Bush's rise to presidency is a strange one, but this film sparks no real further understanding. In a theater that laughed at almost every "Bushism," the overall response to the film was nonetheless mediocre, with very little amount of discussion afterwards or even simple applause from audience members. Oliver Stone's W. is a television miniseries, or long Saturday Night Live sketch, at best.

The film attempts to quickly skim over President George W. Bush's (Josh Brolin) entire life, from his days as a crazy college partier (aren't we all partiers at some point in our lives?) to his confusing and misleading final days in office. The dramatic transformation of President Bush's character is, according to the film, caused by both unrealistic father expectation (George Bush Sr., excellently played by James Cromwell) and a conversion to Christianity. Stone seems to try to convey this transformation as somewhat Shakespearian, however he fails to provide any real conflict or drama.

The acting in this film is hit-or-miss. The hits? President Bush himself. Josh Brolin is superb at portraying Bush's mannerisms with sly looks into the struggling subconscious of the man. Brolin really is one of the best actors of today. Bush's father and Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss) also knock previous characterizations out of the ballpark. Furthermore, Laura Bush, played by Elizabeth Banks, made me that much more excited for Banks' next role in Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make a Porno. The misses? Almost everyone else in this film. I've seen better on the aforementioned Saturday Night Live. In particular, look for Condoleezza Rice's (Thandie Newton) murmurings during Bush's walking discussion with Tony Blair (Ioan Gruffudd). Thoughts of Rainman, anyone?
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    Andrew

    posted 10/17/08 @ 11:12 AM EST

    Hey! Brian Slayton did not write this article.....

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