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Cruise control, right to the top

By Archives October 28, 2008

In the midst of one of the most interesting presidential elections since, well, the last presidential election, American director Oliver Stone decided to release a film about the lame duck president that everyone is desperately trying to put behind them. Haven’t we heard enough about “The Decider” by now? Haven’t we all drunk our fill at the well of being bitter about Bush?
Apparently not. At least, that’s what Oliver Stone hopes.
W.’s publicity was decidedly geared towards the vast majority of human beings who look on George W. Bush’s presidency as a gigantic blunder. The main reason people would see this film is the schadenfreude of watching the world’s most powerful man get egg on his face.
This is Stone’s devious little trick: baiting you with Bush bashing. By expecting this film to be one giant list of the president’s failures, you enter the theatre expecting a two-hour long character assassination.
Of course, there’s no way to make the last eight years seem positive, so in that sense, it does air out his dirty laundry for the world to see.again. But by cherry picking the events of Dubya’s life, Stone humanizes him to a point where it’s hard to keep hold of that righteous indignation you walked in with.
Through a series of flashbacks interwoven with the present, we are introduced to George Walker Bush, the man. Alcoholism, an overbearing father, failed political campaigns and outright manipulation all enter into the cocktail of pity that only hits you after you see them juxtaposed with his current situation in office. How did this poor, confused man end up leading the United States?
Don’t jump to any conclusions, though; this is no love fest. Bush’s unglamous side is ever present, from the occasional Bushism (“Is our children learning?” and “misunderestimated,” among others) to the infamous pretzel incident, the film is a veritable greatest hits of smirk-inducing idiocies.
The cast is for the most part dead on, with actor Richard Dreyfuss bearing an eerie resemblance to Dick Cheney. Josh Brolin’s accent is so believable that viewers can actually picture Bush in the room when they close their eyes.
In short, W. forces audiences to question their preconceptions. When a movie can accomplish that feat, it is worth seeing no matter one’s political stance.