Christine Champ October 9, 2008
First watch the trailers. OK. Now stop laughing. Or crying.
Or laughing on the outside but crying on the inside. I know I am …
Anyway, back to the trailers.
There’s the teaser trailer with its bluesy bad-boy Bush soundtrack, the kind of soundtrack that belongs in a movie about high stakes pool sharks, renegade cops, rule-bucking frat boys or mavericks … of some kind. Wild, crazy badass, wise-cracking mavericks.
A soundtrack reinforced by scenes of young George with his reckless hair, gambling, beer-funneling, “chasing tail,” and driving drunk, all of which makes the wacky college movie theory more likely. This could be a darker Animal House, with George senior threatening to open a can of whoopass on George junior.
Then there’s the giant white W. that flashes across the empty, black screen with the melodrama of a perfume commercial.
And without warning, “I see trees of green …” We’re booted out of the bad-boy Bush universe into the “wonderful world” of President Bush. We see the words, “What drove George W. Bush from here … to there.” Oh, ha ha. Now I get it! A boozing bumbler graduates from college and gets a job in the White House, as President! Now I’ve stopped laughing. But wait, Brolin’s doing his Bush impersonation. I’m laughing again.
Brolin does a very funny dazed and confused caught-like-a-deer-in-Dick-Cheney’s-headlights portrayal of Bush, from his bad-boy days to when he’s clueless and anxiously darting his eyes in a jogging scene where you suppose he’s thinking, “Well, how did I get here? My God, what have I done?” Letting the days go by … once in a lifetime …
And that’s where the extended trailer picks up and doesn’t jog, but RUNS with that idea, as it blasts the soundtrack to W.’s life — starting with “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads. Until there is a chortle-inducing climax with Brolin, doing Bush, doing his best Home Alone (in the White House) scream.
This trailer spends less time on bad-boy Bush and more on Saturday Night Live-skit Bush. There are less frat-boy flashbacks than White House jokes. Like when Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss) discusses advanced interrogation techniques with W., who responds, with Butt-Head brilliance, “You mean like pulling out their toenails? Hehehehehe. ”
The trailer says this film is “based on a true story.” It’s funny cause it’s true.
Is Stone seriously going to spoof Bush? When he still has one foot in the White House? Before he’s dead or at least dead to us and to the media? Or is he already dead to us? Is laughter how the healing will begin?
I suppose the iron is hot for a satirical W. strike.
Then again, according to Brolin, portraying Bush as a comical villain and simpleton was never an option. The script called for humanity, not satire. “Oliver has been extremely compassionate and fair. … The minute we start perceiving Bush as an idiot, we’re irresponsible.” (He also went on to say, “Every time I tell a joke I end up sounding like Bush.”)
Really? Not satire? No spoofing? Not even a smidge?
Stone’s reported comment? “It’s a comedy only in the sense of tragic comedy.” (Does he mean laughing on the outside, but crying on the inside?)
I’m intrigued. W. has the potential for greatness — the film, not the President.
Still, that’s not exactly what the trailers told us. And unless they cut all the trailer scenes from the movie, I can’t promise I won’t laugh. Though not at the scenes shot with compassion and fairness.
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