- Title: W
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Oliver Stone‘s biopic on George W. Bush (Josh Brolin) is a bit of a mixed bag. On one side you have a terrific lead performance by Brolin and strong performances by Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush and James Cromwell as Geroge Herbert Walker Bush. On the other hand you’ve got a group of caricatures from the likes of Thandie Newton, Scott Glenn, Ioan Gruffudd, Toby Jones, and Jeffrey Wright, among others, all of which seem to belong more on a parody sketch from MADtv than a feature film.
Stone’s basic premise is George is a dumbshit with a daddy complex better suited to be a used car salesman who became president. That’s not exactly breaking news. And although there are some good scenes throughout the film, Stone doesn’t really offer much insight into the character as he’s too busy poking fun at everyone involved.
The film moves through various flashbacks from Bush’s life including his troubled college years, his struggle to find a career, his animosity with his father, his early forays into politics, his love of baseball, and the US entering into the Iraq War. There are quite a few moments which aren’t covered however. His first presidential run is barely mentioned (and Al Gore’s name is missing completely) and his run at a second term isn’t even given a footnote. And although the some of the decisions made after 9/11 are discussed the attack itself isn’t a part of the film.
Bush-haters will love the film, the Christian Right will hate it, and the rest of will simply be disappointed. Stone delivers an okay, though mostly empty, comedy with a subject ripe for ridicule, but I guess I expected more. The film is still worth seeing for Brolin’s terrific performance of Bush’s natural buffoonery and mangling of the English language, but it won’t tell you anything you didn’t already know.