Not as blatantly, over-the-top, biased or revisionist as some of Stone’s prior work (JFK, Platoon, Nixon), but still riddled with cheap shots – such as the multiple, and disingenuous, uses of famous Bushisms (or DubyaSpeak) taken out of context. Nonetheless, the movie is a surprisingly sympathetic and engaging portrait of George W. Bush.
The huge cast is destined to yield Oscar nominations. Josh Brolin embodied Bush. He was absolutely terrific. Richard Dreyfuss (one of my all-time favourite actors) as Cheney was superb. Scott Glenn as Rumsfeld and Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powel were very good. Elizabeth Banks was enjoyable as Laura Bush.
I wasn’t as taken with James Cromwell’s performance as George Herbert Walker Bush. Toby Jones as Rove was miscast. Rove is not the shrinking violet that Jones portrayed. While I have criticized Condoleezza Rice as being too timid and insecure, she is not the squeaky, supercilious, church mouse that Thandie Newton portrays her as. The terrific Ellen Burstyn seemed an afterthought in her role as Mother Bush.
Its an enjoyable movie that is worth seeing. Ebert aptly sums up the movie, and the Bush legacy, as follows:
The film portrays him as incompetent to be president, and shaped by the puppet masters Cheney and Rove to their own ends. If there is a saving grace, it may be that Bush will never fully realize how badly he did. How can he blame himself? He was only following God’s will.