W. Oliver Stone

W. Oliver Stone
In the time of Obamania, a biopic on the bumbling now ex-President feels pretty after the fact. While George Walker Bush was no doubt a controversial and umm, entertaining figure, revisiting his time in office and the life that led to his presidency seems almost moot at this point. But given the fact that his legacy will be remembered with a few chuckles, snarls and impersonations, it's hard to argue that he won't go down as one of history's most talked about figures and the perfect candidate for a film like this. Imagined by notorious shit-disturber Oliver Stone (Nixon, JFK), the project was filled with an impressive and very capable cast headed by Josh Brolin, who transforms into a strikingly close Dubya. Beginning with his days as a frat brother, through to his adulthood as a shrewd, beer-guzzling socialite who can't hold down a job to becoming an unexpected politician, daydreaming baseball franchise owner and eventually, the President, W. paints one extraordinary "misunderestimated" life, but without any of the thrills expected from a pre-election shake-up film. Stone is but a shell of his former self here, with material that's crying out to be sensationalized, but instead of giving everyone left of the right wing the film they were dying to see, he's almost sympathetic and understanding of Bush, delivering a straight and uninspiring depiction. Hell, even when the final and most impactful act hits, revealing the war for the power-flaunting mission of revenge and greed it was, it's easy to find yourself distracted, thinking about what dog the Obamas will eventually decide on. Simply put, the film lacks the intrigue and entertainment we thought Dubya was swimming in. Stone's commentary begins by pointing out the 12 companies that helped him make the film, almost all of which were from countries that don't hail to the chief in question. He calls the ensemble cast possibly his best yet and fills us in on "facts" that didn't make the script but could have lightened things up a bit. But for an explanation of why this staunch leftist chose to make such a fair depiction, he admits that he got over his "Bush hatred" in 2004, but all I can think is how much more entertaining W. would have been had he made this in 2003. A featurette examines the flagrant bullying by the American government and the aggressive and abusive tactics the Bush administration used during their eight years. Loaded with government insiders and experts, the concluding opinion is that, well, yes, Bush, Cheney and company were conniving and controlling assholes. A DVD-rom feature cites the references for some of W.'s content, which as Stone tells us in the commentary, took many liberties with what actually happened. (Maple)