If one was to call Olive Stone’s W. a satirical film, than it would have to be a title heavier than ‘dark comedy’: pitch black abyss comedy with few laughs if any. That describes this film.
Although critics must agree that the film was insightful to the life and times of ex-president George W. Bush, the actual content of the film was far from funny with the exception of a sparse collection of scenes. Imagine a Nazi comedy about the infamous Adolph Hitler a year after World War II ended, and make a modernized fit for the infamous George W. Bush. Not enough time has passed; it’s pushing an issue people aren’t ready to accept for another ten to twenty years.
And honestly, W. didn’t poke enough fun at ‘Dubya’, as adoring Americans have nicknamed our former president. One of the few funny gags was when George fouled up a famous phrase by saying “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice and… you ain’t gonna fool me again.” Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to earn this films place in the satirical or comedic genre of film.
There is one shining ray of light for this attempt at President Bush’s life: the cast. Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men, Milk), who took on the difficult role of W. himself, did a terrific job slipping into the character. Brolin obviously studied George W. Bush’s mannerisms and projected them onto the screen. The accent, the wording, the facial expressions… everything was done just right. Brolin was not alone on the screen as James Cromwell (Babe, The Green Mile) gave a splendid performance as George’s father, George Bush Senior. Cromwell too gave the character his upright attention and faded into his role, as only character actors can do. They both deserve recognition for taking on such challenging parts.
So, did the film push buttons and pull back the curtain on one of the most infamous presidents in American history? No. Should you rent it from the redbox for a dollar just to see the performances? Sure, if you have two hours to kill.