A little over halfway through "W." the lights came on in the theater, then the manager and assistant manager cleared the house and led us out to the parking lot. Then the manager said: “Sorry for the mistake. Somebody pushed the wrong button. You can all go back inside.”
We did and as the movie began again, I wondered if this was a salute to the movies of William Castle where he wired every tenth seat in his horror flick "The Tingler" or engineered a skeleton drifting down from a balcony after the acid vat sequence in the original "House on Haunted Hill." Could it have been an October surprise?
It wasn’t but somehow I would have preferred that kind of direction. Yes, "W." is an interesting attempt, but very painful to sit through if you’ve cared about the future of America over the past eight years and wonder how this particular political siege is going to end. Frankly, this movie is more like a souped-up Hallmark Hall of Fame instead of a legit biopic dealing with one of the most turbulent decades in the USA since the Second World War.
Josh Brolin is extremely good in his impersonation of the frat boy who became president and Richard Dreyfuss must have truly loved playing the part of Dick Cheney. And you’ll get a stitch in your side from watching Ellen Burstyn’s impersonation of Mother Bush, especially with the white fright wig she wears with aplomb. In fact, just like an episode of the old TV series "Dallas," unless you’re a Bush diehard, you’ll move right along with the story, the only thing missing being some very well done beer commercials.
In "W." Bush’s political journey begins with our watching a middle-aged president in a baseball jersey number 43 and standing in the outfield of an empty ballpark. It’s a new take on "The Field of Dreams." It's painful to watch Bush’s very empty career with the only thing missing being the Selectric Typewriter that cost Dan Rather his career.
And that’s the trouble with "W." It’s not a movie, it’s not a biopic, it’s not a far-flung documentary, it’s not burlesque, and even when you know the outcome, it’s lacking not only sum but substance.
I wish that Stone would have waited until the Reign of W. had passed before producing this movie.