Directed by Oliver Stone
Starring Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn
Release Date: October 17, 2008
Any comedian will tell you the secret to a good joke is to make it accessible, have a good setup, and kill with the punch line. I don’t know that there is necessarily a golden formula but this seems like pretty sound advice on a general level. I suppose variations of the same thing can be said about making movies. Director Oliver Stone had nothing if not a golden setup. A movie about the exiting President of the United States, while he is still in office, mere days before the election that would remove him from power, and with just enough time to reflect on his last eight years in office. Stone, being no stranger to controversy or films of historical significance, seemed to be in a perfect position to move in for the kill. Instead we got what those in retail refer to as the old “˜bait and switch’.
W. does show us what we expected to see from this movie; that George W. Bush (Josh Brolin) grew up as a hard partying man of privilege who rarely had to deal with consequences for anything he did or said. He was an irresponsible, womanizing, carousing, spoiled little rich kid who wouldn’t and couldn’t hold a job. Any trouble he got into was fixed by a phone call from his father, George H.W. Bush (James Cromwell). It also told how Dubya fell ass-backwards into politics and eventually became the leader of the free world. It would almost be an inspiring “little engine that could” type story, if not for knowing the details about how everything actually turned out. The pre-release posters and trailers suggested the movie would be a caustic illustration of the rise and fall of the 43rd President of the United States. Turns out, W. shows a surprising lack of poignancy, political or otherwise.
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