Saturday, February 14, 2009


Watching W. was distracting to say the least. All the time I was thinking, this is a movie full of impersonators, good and bad. Which is not to say that they were bad actors, it’s just that I never had the ‘suspension of disbelief’ as they say in watching the film. There are physical limitations to looking and sounding like some else it would seem.

Just to run through my opinions of them, Jeffrey Wright who played the Secretary of State Collin Powell reminded me too much of his role in the James Bond films. Condoleezza Rice (Thandie Newton) strangely reminds me of Saturday Night Live. I can venture a guess why but we’ll get to that later.

George H. W. Bush (James Cromwell) doesn’t sound anywhere close to the real one. Laura Bush (Elizabeth Banks) seemed at least physically accurate. CIA chief George Tenet (Bruce McGill) makes me almost expectant that MacGyver will be waiting in the wings having played the TV hero’s sidekick long time ago. Richard Dreyfus was the best, even scary, as recently coined most influential vice president, Dick Cheney. Unfortunately he is just too good that he seemed out of place.

As for the story, from George W. Bush’s first term onward to the day weapons inspectors declared that Iraq never had weapons of mass destruction; it is a strain just to remember.

Josh Brolin certainly earned his paycheck playing the 43rd American President George W. Bush. He got the mannerisms, the accent, and the timing of the words right. But I wondered, more often than I wanted to, if Bush really talks like that. Of course I never new the man personally but something about the manner of speaking feels unnatural; like a man acting out on stage, which is exactly what a politician does.

I can blame a lot of how I feel with the portrayal on Saturday Night Live. The show has comedians doing much of the same: the acting, the accent, the timing between words, and the mannerisms. And that is the underlying problem in taking W. seriously: the comedy.

America’s 43rd president and his administration’s follies have been a great inspiration to comedians, too great in fact that I never got into a serious mood for the duration of the film. When the movie discussed his policies and received subsequent disagreements from all over the world, I feel like Will Ferrell is going to pop out with a punch line.

Furthermore to the film’s detriment, I did not feel empathy when George W was always feeling inadequate when compared to his father George H. W Bush. The father and son dynamic could have been the film’s emotional theme because the entire story is the son trying to prove himself worthy, albeit inadequately, of the family name. Instead the drama was buried in the shadow of the comedy barely if it ever got a peep out. The simpleton who at times appears that English is his second language always stands out.

Surprisingly I almost feel pity for the man because the last thing any president would want especially in making so many controversial decisions is just to be an inspiration for comedy. Well…almost. He got what he deserved.

And with creative liberties taken by Hollywood or Oliver Stone at least he was one of the worst in recent memory. Recently coined most influential vice president Dick Cheney was shown in W. as one of the prime movers of the war in Iraq.

During one planning scene he used the term empire which took me by surprise. And also from the vice president’s mouth a motive was stated: control of the country holding much of the world’s oil reserves. ertainly not how the Bush Administration wants to be remembered.

There were reports that George H. W. had disagreements with the policies of the son but even then it is safe to assume that such disagreements it remains only on policy. Rarely does a parent openly say he is ashamed of his son especially one holding such an office. W. takes liberty on this regard in the sense that the father privately confronted the son by saying the family name was destroyed because of Iraq. While having the possibility of being true something feels awkward about putting words and interpretations into the relationships of people still existing.

But with George W’s presidency now part of history I guess its fair play. With records now up to scrutiny people can interpret deeper than what was once released to the press. Hollywood being on the entertainment side of the information business may be too liberal in interpreting than most.

Overall I don’t like this film. I’m just too confused between taking it as an interpretation of historical events or a two hour comedy. If you want comedy, go watch reruns of Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show. But if you want history, just read up as always in supplement of films like W., at least in the book or in articles, without the funny accent, I am sure you’ll take the history more seriously.