Monday, 20 October 2008

W - a movie review

Josh Brolin as George W. BushMeh.

There are some good things to say about this movie and they center primarily around the performances. Josh Brolin worked very, very hard not only to nail George Bush, but to nail him at the different stages of his life and he did an incredibly good job of it. Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney never once made me think of Mr. Holland either. No warm fuzzies coming from him in this movie.

But these memorable performances are the only thing worth going to see in this movie. Only people who enjoy sneering at George Bush for its own sake will get much pleasure out of it, and even they will feel let down more than once, as the movie did try to go beyond caricature.

It didn't do a very good job though. For a George Bush-neutral like myself (I know, I'm a rare breed) it was a great let-down. The only "insights" into his character are furnished by scenes of private conversations that are pretty much by definition, fantasies of the screen writers.

Now, I'm a great fan of fantasy, but only when it is openly fantasy. There is an intellectual dishonesty about shaping a historical or contemporary figure according the whims of the shapers rather according to the rigours of actual evidence that troubles me immensely.

Unfortunately, such niceties have never troubled Oliver Stone.

The movie definitely doesn't hold up as a documentary (and it bothers me a lot to think that many movie-goers will see it as gospel truth when it is almost entirely fiction) and just as damning, it doesn't hold up all that well as a story. I got bored more than once, not able to discern a clear direction, other than the fact that George W. was constantly on the screen.

So, other than some fine acting, this movie was rather a disappointment. But not enough of a disappointment to get me really mad. It wasn't even good at being bad. Meh.
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Janna Qualman said...

I haven't yet decided if I'll see it, but if I do it'll be for the performances you mentioned, not in support of any particular person or notion.

Good to hear what you thought.

Janet said...

I went primarily to see how Josh Brolin pulled it off, so on that point I wasn't disappointed. But there wasn't much else to get excited about. And despite the performance, I didn't feel I knew anything more about W and what makes him tick than I did before going in.

Melanie Avila said...

That's too bad the screenwriters made up so much of the story. While I'm sure the president has no intention of helping people make a possibly negative movie about him while he's still in office, it seems wrong to not even attempt to be accurate.

That said, I do want to see it.

Cloudia said...

Stone's intentions were documentary I'm sure; but wh would I pay to sit through more W. Shenanigans?!
Time for a change!

Dominique said...

I've heard good things other places about Brolin's performance, although most reviewers I've read seem to agree with you and have a lukewarm feeling about the movie.
Still, I'm curious enough to probably see it.

Janet said...

Cloudia, as a documentary, it was immoral. Let me judge the real man, not a Hollywood piece of plywood badly painted. As a piece of historical fiction, it was pretty weak. Not enough solid history, and the little there was was a complete caricature. And the plot was poorly structured.

So I am back to meh.

Dominique, I suspect it will do good things for Brolin's career. I probably wouldn't have gone at all, except I heard him being interviewed on NPR, and I was intrigued.

Rachel Burton said...

Thanks for the informative review. I was on the fence about this one. Looks like I'll wait for the video!

misunderestimated said...

Josh Brolin did a convincing Dubya, though he reminded me a lot of his cowboy character from No Country for Old Men... over all, i don't doubt that 'W.' will have the effect Oliver Stone desired

Janet said...

Misunderestimated, I wish I could say you were wrong. But I think you're right. It's hard to go wrong misunderestimating the public...

Mulholland Kevin said...

I will most definately pass this one by. I ignored one of your "meh" reviews before and went to see Prince Caspian anyway. I won't repeat that mistake!

Janet said...

LOL, Kevin. Always nice when you find a reviewer with similar tastes, isn't it? I have yet to see Appaloosa, though. Have to wait till hubby gets the movie-going itch again.

As a historian, he found W pretty frustrating too. Although our movie tastes can be quite different, this time we aligned pretty well. He came out saying "Meh" too.


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