W. Is an Insult to 62 Million Voters

All such attempts at unveiling an alternative history of the last eight years, though, are undercut by the film’s reliance on cheap gags and forced goofiness; seconds after Dreyfuss’ Satanic moment, the president sounds like Henry Blake on M*A*S*H, saying, “We’re not sure who they are, but they’re there.” Gear changes clang like this throughout; Stone wants to be thought of as both commentator and a comic, but he isn’t Stanley Kubrick and his many ironic uses of campy songs à la Strangelove are trite, repetitive and obvious.

Stone and his cast plainly don’t understand George W. Bush so they (again — I except Banks, who seems to be in a completely different and better movie — settle for a two-hour Saturday Night Live sketch that skims every surface.

Stone still cannot fathom how Bush won four huge elections, thrice bested the man universally acknowledged to be the country’s best debater in 2000 and inspired millions in (to cite a few examples) his speech atop the rubble at the World Trade Center, his Convention address in 2004 and in his second inaugural in 2005. Astonishing but true: Stone simply skips over all of these signature moments because they don’t fit Stone’s one joke about a bumbler who drifted to the top and destroyed the world.

To put it another way: the film does not show the courageous choice to launch the Surge and the way it succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, but does show the pretzel-choking incident, during which the president is shown wearing a novelty T-shirt with a dog on it.

Except for (perhaps) a scene in which Bush is shown breaking down and praying for salvation, there is not a single moment that shows any reason why anyone would support such an imbecile; in its determined omissions, it’s a bigger insult to the 62 million who voted for Bush than to the man himself.

W.

Directed by Oliver Stone

Starring: Josh Brolin, Jeffrey Wright, Scott Glenn, Elizabeth Banks, Richard Dreyfuss, Thandie Newton

O.5 stars/ 4

131 minutes/Rated PG-13