Conjecture, rumor, gossip, theory and insinuation accompany director Oliver Stone’s depiction of the life, times and the first-term of President George W. Bush.
That is no surprise. What will have your jaw dropping is Stone’s even-handed, straight-ahead, almost nice treatment of Bush.
To begin with Stone’s casting is uncanny. Josh Brolin nails Bush’s mannerisms and speaking style. If you close your eyes you won’t be able to tell the difference between imitation and the real thing. Eyes open and Brolin looks more like NBC TV’s Tom Brokaw.
Others that are practically clones of their real-life counterparts are Richard Dreyfuss who looks so much like Vice President Dick Cheney that it is spooky. Thandie Newton and her whiney, nasal delivery is totally irritating as Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell’s voice of reason is found in a pitch perfect performance by Jeffrey Wright.
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Rounding out the exceptional performances from the main players is James Cromwell as George Herbert Walker Bush and Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush.
Stone covers the required basics in this 2-hour, 10-minute modern history lesson. He examines the sitting president’s sordid and drunken past, his push to gain the respect of Mom and Dad, his marriage, eventual success in the business world, the ownership of a pro baseball team, the governorship of Texas, his ascendancy to the presidency, and the planning and execution of the Iraq war.
Most surprising is that Stanley Weiser’s (Wall Street) screenplay and Stone leave out the controversial win in the 2000 election. It ends up a mere footnote.
Stone is certainly more accurate here than he was with 1991’s JFK where he blamed everybody but my grandmother for the assassination of President John Kennedy. And “W” has more energy than 1995’s Nixon.
And he has a lot more fun. W. is loaded with some great lines and hilarious Bushisms.
What Stone doesn’t try to do is change anyone’s mind. He seems more interested in actually making his first good movie since Natural Born Killers in 1994.
Conservatives will cringe over Stone’s interpretation of the planning and execution of the invasion of Iraq. He sees Bush as a clueless egomaniac led by the nose into an ill-advised war. Liberals will laugh their butts of and scream, “I told you so.”
And even that doesn’t count. No matter where you sit on the political fence in 2008, W isn’t going to cause polarization.
I think we can all agree it is a very good movie.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It is playing at the Carmike 12 and at Fairchild Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.