Bush whacked

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

W. isn't controversial. In fact, it's sometimes funny and often boring.

That's especially odd considering the notoriety surrounding director Oliver Stone's past biopics and the ease with which talented filmmakers have skewered President George W. Bush, who's currently polling about as well as lung cancer.

The film bounces between Bush's (John Brolin) hawkish decision to invade Iraq and his formative years as a Yale University student and ambitious Texan politician. Scenes hinge on his heavy drinking, troubled relationship with his father (James Cromwell) and ultimate conversion to the fundamental Christian faith that guided him throughout his political career.

Stone and screenwriter Stanley Weiser consistently tread middle ground: too subjective to claim accuracy, too tame to spark interest. Except for Brolin and Richard Dreyfuss as Vice President Dick Cheney, the all-star cast is unwaveringly stiff - what happens when a movie condenses decades of complex history and critiques the means and ends of its major players.

Gentler scenes show Bush as a well-meaning simpleton surrounded by a cast of manipulative, neo-conservative bullies. Harsher scenes portray him as a megalomaniac driven to succeed at any cost.

But here's the problem: You've likely viewed the president both ways sometime during the past eight years. The most interesting thing brought to light in this 11th-hour potshot is that Bush really just wanted to play baseball.