A Big P.U. to “W.”

23 10 2008

I saw Oliver Stone’s “W.” last night, which has been largely lauded for its immediate and daring (if biased) portrayal of our largely loathed commander-in-chief. Needless to say, I can’t stand Bush, or else I probably wouldn’t have seen this movie at all. However, I was surprised to find that I couldn’t stand this movie either, and goddamn it I want my $8.50 back.

Josh Brolin does his best Bush grimace.

Josh Brolin does his best Bush grimace.

San Francisco Chronicle movie critic Mick Lasalle had this to say in his mostly positive review: “…future audiences will have to appreciate the daring nature of what Stone is attempting: to put the national trauma known as the Bush years into historical and psychological perspective, even as they’re still going on.” This may have some truth to it in terms of the difficulty of what Stone is attempting, and perhaps once some actual historical perspective is achieved, the film can be seen and criticized more fairly.

Roger Ebert, in his glowing review, reflected on the film’s story being a retread of the last six or seven year’s public discourse: “Everything in it, including the scenes behind closed doors, is now pretty much familiar from tell-all books by former Bush aides, and reporting by such reporters as Bob Woodward. Though Stone and his writer, Stanley Weiser, could obviously not know exactly who said what and when, there’s not a line of dialogue that sounds like malicious fiction. It’s all pretty much as published accounts have prepared us for.” And this is exactly the problem.

The movie tells us almost nothing an informed person didn’t already know – the sale of the Iraq War was misguided, Bush overcame a fairly heavy drinking habit to become President, he had a difficult relationship with his father, etc. The casting is spot-on, but I found the film as a whole quite boring and a fairly base attempt to capitalize off of Bush’s incredible unpopularity.

“W.” just seems like more dirt on the Bush-bashing pile that’s become quite tired. History will not be slow in declaring whether or not Bush’s presidency was a complete failure, but that decision cannot be made before he even leaves office. Had the film been grounded in some 10 to 20 years of the post-Bush American experience, it might seem a little more trustworthy and a whole lot less heavy-handed.

To my disappointment, I put “W.” in the category of most movies nowadays – simply a calculated way to make a buck rather than a true artistic statement.




One response

23 10 2008
Okay kids, “W.” is for… « as the universe expands…

[…] The Clay Pigeon says “A Big P.U. to W.” […]

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