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“W.” has an imposing title that suggests a powerful film. It has an imposing cast with powerful credentials. It has an imposing director with a powerful reputation. What it doesn’t have is an imposing subject, George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States of America, with a powerful anything. The whining, sniveling, puppy dog of a creature that dominates the screen for 2 hours, would be better suited under the title, “Geo”, the name his doting wife, Laura affectionately calls him throughout.

W. the man makes “W.” the film, and in this case what it makes is neither intelligent nor insightful. The president has been an open book of womanizing, boozing, failed businesses, revenge and all around stupidity for some time now. The historical parts, being a C student, fucking up his business ventures, getting sober, have been discussed at great length in just about every medium over the past several years. We’ve seen him lambasted, mocked, and roasted in every medium over the past several years as well. The jokes come easy to a target that seems to have become a real life caricature of his own existence. Quips this film relies on (Bush’s hearty, “I’m not dumb”), are too easy a target, and play better in the Lil’ Bush series on Comedy Central.

As for the more recent blunders namely, the Iraq War, the Iraq War, and the Iraq War, there is something significantly more serious at stake and I had a hard time chuckling along with the audience at the inside nod to the sign saying “Mission Accomplished”. A friend who saw the film last night said this: “I liked it. I felt bad for him and for the first time realized Bush isn’t evil, he’s just stupid.” Axis of Evil vs. Axis of Stupidity will do nothing to lessen the fact that we are at plus 4,000 lives lost and climbing. The cartoon mess portrayed on screen is the cartoon mess we are still living and the rubberized reenactments do nothing to make sense of it. Neither does the strained and painful relationship between a brutal father and his dopey, sensitive son. Despite Oliver Stone’s efforts to shove the would-be Shakespearean theory down our throats (and shove he does) it never materializes into a compelling possibility. He goes for the formula here and it plays out in mostly soap opera dialogue, forced, text book clichéd lines, and dream sequences better suited for a Days of Our Lives Friday episode.

All signs point to a poor biographical subject with little to offer in the way of complexity or new understanding. Is it him or the Mr. Stone’s choice of direction? I don’t have the answer to that. But maybe next time we can get a look at Cheney, Rumsfeld or even Condi, characters whose lives are comparatively closed and mysterious and still have something to offer–even it is only the dark side.

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