Is "W" an "L?"

As George W.’s career in politics fades into history and ignominy, could his future in show business be just beginning? Could Oliver Stone’s “W,” which opened last weekend, be the first in what might prove to be an entertainment gold mine?

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. How did “W” fare among the critics and those in the know? Like the President himself, the film has stirred extremes in opinions, some mutually contradictory.

For example, right-leaning "New York Post" critic Kyle Smith’s review excoriated the movie partly on the basis that it is a liberal hatchet job full of typical Oliver Stone distortions of the truth. He concludes: "Stone and his cast plainly don’t understand George W. Bush so they ... settle for a two-hour “Saturday Night Live” sketch that skims every surface.”

On the other hand, the "New York Press’s" ever-contrarian and crypto-reactionary Armond White hails the movie for opposite reasons: he claims it vindicates the president from 8 years of lies from the liberal media. His conclusion:

“Our mainstream media’s vindictiveness toward George W. Bush has dismantled even the illusion of fairness. For the past eight years, the media elite have fought back against Bush winning the presidency in 2000, corrupting the purpose of journalism and entertainment by being vehemently partisan and ferociously illiberal. By opposing the mob mentality that would hang Bush in effigy, W. imaginatively sympathizes with the most maligned president in modern history.

They both can’t be right. Maybe neither one is.

So what do the experts say, those who actually knew the President personally? Scott McLellan, former toadying Press Secretary and current administration squealer with his tell-all book “What Happened,”  has an opinion. After commenting on the film’s Oedipal angle (Could be true, he opines) and some of Stone’s cheaper shots (W was no dummy, he reminds us) McLellan concludes:

"My guess is the most vocal Bush critics will view Stone’s account as too soft on Bush and his top advisers, while Bush’s chief advocates will ignore and dismiss it. But I think the average Joe just might find it entertaining and thought-provoking. I won’t go as far as to borrow a line from Bush 43 and say, 'Heck of a job, Stonie.' But I will borrow one from Bush 41 and say, 'It’s good, not bad.'"

Bush 41 -- what a phrasemaker. 

As for Jeb Bush, former governor of the state that gave W the presidency back in 2000,  describes the film as “hooey.”

But what about the only opinion and poll that matters, the box office? Though some predicted the film would be a flop,  it held up surprisingly well, placing fourth in top grosses for last weekend at some $10 million and taking in a respectable $5,000 or so a screen. More intriguing, perhaps, is the fact that it’s the only film, at least in my recollection, for which political exit polls were conducted (for example, 89% of patrons said they disapproved of Bush and 78% said they were voting for Obama. 6% said they were voting for McCain and only were watching “W” because the liberal weasel theater owners said they were buying tickets for “American Carol.”).

So maybe the George W. Bush franchise will flourish. Will Ferrell thinks so. No doubt stirred by my description of his impression of the President as the “edgiest and funniest,”  he is taking it to Broadway for a one-man show called "You’re Welcome America. A Final Night With George W Bush."


| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
Latest Comments
Search Blogs
Outside The Frame Archives