W

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: +1/2

Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, Ellen Burstyn, James Cromwell, Richard Dreyfuss, Scott Glenn, Toby Jones, Stacy Keach, Bruce McGill, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright. Drama. Written by Stanley Weiser. Directed by Oliver Stone.

FILM SYNOPSIS: In an unprecedented undertaking (with the President still in office), director Oliver Stone is bringing the life of our 43rd President to the big screen in his inimitable fashion. W takes viewers through George W. Bushs life -- his struggles and triumphs, how he found both his wife and his faith, and of course the critical days leading up to the invasion of Iraq.

PREVIEW REVIEW: My comments should in no way be taken as a defense of George W. Bush. It is important, however, for future generations to be cautious of a filmmaker's interpretation of political events within a dramatic presentation. Mr. Stone is renown for his controversial films (Nixon, Born on the Fourth of July, JFK, Talk Radio, Salvador), and has little compunction about rewriting history in order to tell his tale the way he wants to tell it. With Nixon, he was determined to expose wrongdoings at the cost of facts. Stone's approach was not biographical, but rather incendiary. He reformulated history for the purpose of his art, making him as dangerous as the man he wanted to vilify. Now comes his take on Bush Junior.

Its the Looney Tunes version of the 43rd president. By using a soundtrack loaded with songs that satirize Bushs speech, his abilities and his integrity, plus having every activist in Hollywood gleefully play his cronies and family, including Richard Dreyfuss doing Dick Cheney like a Saturday Night Live sketch on the Devil (okay, he may have something there), the film becomes a cartoonish caricature. Indeed, if this were an animated film, George W. would be played by Yosemite Sam. And since Mr. Bushs approval ratings are lower than MSNBCs, the film may draw more ticket buyers than just the left-wing bloggers. Come to think of it, Lionsgate better not rely on that crowd. Its been my experience that those who lean in that direction seldom do the buying.

Heres my main problem with this Hee Haw version of life in the White House. Most of it is presented through the use of private moments: George W. talking to card-playing buddies, bedroom intimacies with Laura (the director being careful never to signal a reason why Laura would have fallen in love with this man), conference meetings with his cabinet, all these scenes are done without the presss presence. Filmgoers should keep in mind that everything shown as fact is closer to conjecture.

Interestingly, despite all the hazing of George W, his religious conversion is not mocked. From then on, he steers clear of alcohol, and prays over decisions (thought those moments are somewhat ridiculed). In one scene, we hear Bush proclaim to his wife that he was trying to bring peace to the world by taking down Saddam Hussein. One gets the distinct impression that to Oliver Stone, Bush is more Gomer Pile than Beelzebub.

There is a nagging question never satisfactorily addressed in this presentation. If George W. Bush is really just a goof, how did he get to help his dad win a term as President, go on to govern the state of Texas, beating out a beloved incumbent, then become President for two terms? Didnt anyone suspect that he might not be able to do these jobs? How did he get so much support from inner circles? Did he have anything on the ball? If so, you wouldnt know it by watching this film.

In the recent Religulous, also released by Lionsgate, Bill Maher builds an argument around his belief that Religion must die so mankind can survive. That film does do one positive thing it points out the power of a filmed perspective. I say positive in that it warns rational, thinking people that any agenda can seem reasonable on film. As I know there is more to faith in God than Bill Mahers film indicates, I suspect there may be more to George W. Bush than the Left-leaning auteur suggests. Then again, maybe not. I dont know. Unlike everyone who makes movies, I dont claim to be a political pundit.

Preview Reviewer: PhIl Boatwright
Distributor:
Lionsgate

Summary
The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: A few crude remarks from George W in his youth.

Obscene Language: Around 10 obscenities, some from George W.

Profanity: Three profane uses of Gods name, none by the President.

Violence: During a drunken argument with his father George W. threatens to physically fight his dad.

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Until Mr. Bush accepts Christ and turns from alcohol, he drinks quite a bit.

Other: None

Running Time: 120 minutes
Intended Audience: Anyone who likes left-slanted bias


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