Review: W.: The Comedy Is That It's Serious

"A well done movie? Probably. But not one I'd ever recommend people see."


The problem with the movie W. is that it's happening right now. All around us we see the wreckage of electing a guy that you'd want to have a beer with. I think I'm on relatively safe ground saying this: the gentleman in question has the lowest approval rating of my lifetime and poll after poll indicates the American people are unhappy with the direction of the country. But, at least before I saw W., I thought that I just might have honest policy disagreements with our president. Now I wonder if there wasn't something more nefarious going on.

Since you've tuned into a movie review I'll lay it out for you. Josh Brolin is great as W.. He's got the mannerisms and "decider" mentality down pat. The film alternates between Bush Jr.'s presidency and his early rabble-rousing years. The main theme is undoubtedly W.'s relationship with his father whom he calls "Poppy" throughout. The other actors in the film range from caricatures (Thandie Newton's Condoleezza Rice is distracting) to more fleshed-out portraits (Jeffrey Wright's Colin Powell is well done). The modern day scenes are the most interesting part of the film, but they are only interesting in the sense of "Wait, is this how decisions are actually made in this White House?"

Thus, W. feels like a flawed film simply because all the wounds are so fresh. If this had come out in 2018 I think there would have been much more room to appreciate it. We're in the middle of a polarizing election process that's left very little space to make a non-partisan statement on where we're at and how we got there. And W. is nothing if not a statement.

The changes of the past eight years have been sweeping. We've adapted the notion of preemptive war. The Patriot Act has made the rights of citizenship circumstantial. We've put up a "temporary" out-of-country prison. We're running the highest national debt ever and we eye our stock market warily, as one would take note of a rabid lynx in the living room. Remarkably, all of this might be due to the fact that Bush the younger never got the love he needed from Bush the older. The implications of that are simply staggering, that something so small and petty could affect the lives of so many. That is the case the film makes, however.

Now then, it's not my contention that you shouldn't throw sad films into your movie diet. Heck, Stone's own World Trade Center is an amazing movie that deserved much more of an audience. My issue is with depression for no gain. You'll walk out of this one dazed by the stupidity of the situation we currently find ourselves in. But if you purchased a ticket to this in the first place you were probably already agitated by the leadership. It's a zero sum gain. Maybe just get yourself a beer with someone you love instead.

A well done movie? Probably. But not one I'd ever recommend people see. It's either true and depressing or dishonest and misleading. Either way is bad berries. Sad as it is we're probably better off with a movie about a Chihuahua these days. Anything to numb the reality of the world we find ourselves in.

Grade: C+