W.

"Terrible"

W. Review


As President Bush's second term winds down and the race for 2008 spins at fevered pace, now is the time to make a statement -- reflecting on the failures of the current administration and projecting our hopes for the next.

Oliver Stone's W. is not that statement.

With characters as shallow as W.'s nicknames -- Poppy, Rummy, Vice, to name a few -- Stone plots a confused course following George W. from a directionless, silver spoon frat boy to his absent-minded presidency. At best, W. is just as glorious a failure as Bush's administration.

Ripped from Stone's crazed political perspectives, the story bounces back and forth from W.'s (Josh Brolin) hell-raising youth -- drinking and driving, smoking and screwing -- to the events leading up to the Iraq War, interspersed with a meaningless baseball metaphor/dream sequence. The disjointed plot line works for W.'s youth, as Stone elliptically cuts the flashbacks to emphasis W.'s alcoholism and over-inflated ego -- creating a genuinely unlikable, one-dimensional caricature. Supported by a stream of whiskey bottles and failed careers, the flashbacks' negative view of W. sets the film up for a full-on assault of an older President Bush. Then, in the blink of an eye, Stone unapologetically cuts to an irate President Bush raging against his cabinet of masterminds that seemingly duped him into an unwinnable war. Why should we care about this lame-brained alcoholic?

We don't, and neither does the cast. Without a solid stance on the character of W., there's nowhere for Brolin to go, and he's forced merely to deliver Stone's and writer Stanley Weiser's unfunny jokes. To muddle matters further, the rest of the ensemble cast has the same problem. Gen. Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright) delivers anti-war soliloquies, supported by emotion-evoking (or exploiting) melodies, while the Saturday Night Live-style Condoleezza Rice (Thandie Newton) delivers her lines like a Muppet Baby. Without any guiding line of character, we never invest anything into them. We never sympathize with W. and we scoff at Stone's vision of the Extreme Right, helmed by Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss) and Rice. It's a huge shift when Stone tries cutting into the meat of W.'s character -- his relationship and feelings toward his father. But Stone offers a bite that's too big to swallow; we can't give W. that because it hasn't given us anything in return.

While the more contemporary Iraq War story line seems to inject some life into this mess, if apathy has leaked in at any point over these eight difficult years and you stopped paying attention, good luck keeping up with the plot. Sure, the big strokes are there, but the details -- and fictionalization -- of how Bush's cabinet may have manipulated him are just as mixed-up as the film's characterizations. After the fifth slow motion shot of W. looking stupid (usually involving Christ imagery -- arms outstretched or lights like a halo over his head) or another montage of Iraq bombings set to old-timey, light-hearted folk tunes, we've stopped looking for the point and started looking for the exit. Stone can only juggle so many characters and plot lines -- Bush's presidency, his youth, his relationship with Bush Sr., the blind egotistical drive -- before it comes crashing down as a boring cinematic mess. If we're lucky, we make it out of the theater before Bob Dylan's "God on Our Side" plays over the end credits; Stone adding more insult to injury by wielding another artist's statement over his own impotent production.

Meeting Accomplished.



W.

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 129 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th October 2008

Box Office USA: $25.5M

Distributed by: Lionsgate

Production compaines: Ixtlan Productions, Emperor Motion Pictures, Global Entertainment Group

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
Fresh: 125 Rotten: 87

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Bill Block, , Paul Hanson,

Starring: as George W. Bush, as Laura Bush, as Barbara Bush, as Tony Blair, as Condoleezza Rice, as Dick Cheney, as Donald Rumsfeld, as George Herbert Walker Bush, as Colin Powell, as Karl Rove, as George Tenet, as General Tommy Franks, as Jeb Bush, as Ari Fleischer, as Rev. Earle Hudd, as Speechwriter #1, as Fraternity President

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.