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Review (7/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

W. is the movie that tells us the story of President George W. Bush, beginning with his days as a hard-drinking freshman at Yale University, continuing with his hard-drinking days as an unemployed Texan, through his days as the hard-drinking Governor of Texas and wrapping up with the years when he found God, seemed to become a bit more serious and somewhat responsible and eventually became President of the United States of America - twice. That's right - America voted in a man who grew up drinking way too many beers, smoking way too many cigarettes, at times driving and crashing the car after he drank and smoked too much, spending a night in jail when he was a member of Yale's cheerleading squad, quitting job after job that his father got for him and running a couple of his dad's businesses into the ground - twice. It almost makes you wonder what year Paris Hilton will be voted President. The movie depicts a man who his very own father seemed to despise so much that on more than one occassion he challenged the future President of the United States to a fist fight. Imagine the money such a fight would bring to Pay-Per-View.

Director Oliver Stone also spends a lot of time focusing on the events and conversations that took place within the walls of the White House and at Bush's Texas ranch (or perhaps it was Camp David) that eventually led up to what may, one day, end up being the biggest mistake in the history of the United States - the Bush Administration's war in Iraq. Stone gives us the impression that Bush had a deep-seeded hatred towards Saddam Hussein but had there been someone who actually would have stood up Bush and in a loud, clear voice, told him there were, in fact, no WMDs in Iraq, the war would never have happened. Instead, there were simply murmurs of caution from a few people including General Colin Powell. Unfortunately, in the end, it was the likes of Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and some loud-mouth General who convinced Bush that attacking Iraq was the right thing to do. That is not to absolve Bush of any responsibility for what has happened in Iraq and to the entire United States. In the end, it was his decision to make and he listened to the wrong people. But at the same time, the man just seemed oblivious. Oblivious to what was going on within the confines of the White House, oblivious to what was happening around the world. Oblivious when it came to answering questions from the media. Oblivious as to how to use famous quotes. (Yes, his famous "fool me once" blunder is in the movie.) Bush is shown as a man who could barely eat a bowl of pretzels, let alone run the most powerful country in the world. Perhaps if Bush ate his food more carefully and not chewed it like a horse eats his oats, he wouldn't have almost died eating a pretzel. Kind of ironic that that's the same way he ran an entire country.

It's not like the movie depicts him as a complete asshole. In fact, most of the time, he is the exact opposite, kind of a happy-go-lucky type of guy who grew up like thousands of other hard-partying college students would have grown up. The only difference is that his family had a deep-rooted political history and Bush was able to take advantage of this family history and become President of the United States. He's a man who, after September 11th, had one of the highest acceptance ratings in the history of the country but by 2008, with the country on the verge of an economic collapse and entangled in a war that seems like it may never end, he probably has the lowest. It's a legacy that Stone's W. suggests even Bush deeply regrets. In a way, it's almost too bad that back in the 1970's and 80's there was no YouTube, PerezHilton or TMZ. Had there been, it's almost certain that, given Bush's antics in his 20's and 30's, he would have never been elected President. He would have been an internet all-star, popping up on those tabloid websites on a regular basis. When you really think about it, it's almost as if the Paris Hilton of the 1970's got elected President. In fact, it might only be a pair of underwear that really separates the two.

In the end, W. certainly is an interesting look at the man who, for a couple of more months will run the United States of America. It is strange seeing such a depiction with Bush still in office. It is a movie that is blessed with some strong performances by the likes of Josh Brolin, James Cromwell and Richard Dreyfuss and some performances, such as Thandie Newton's Condoleezza Rice, that will draw some snickers. I will admit, there are times the movie drags a bit. It's not all bells and whistles in the movie. Some of those political conversations could put an owl to sleep. And if you're looking for controversy, if you're looking for a movie that claims the war in Iraq took place so Bush, Cheney and all of his other cronies could make millions of dollars, well, don't expect any of that from W. There aren't many secret revelations, except for perhaps the animosity between George W. and George H. There are no wild parties at the White House. There are no scandals involving the Bush twins. Even Laura Bush is pretty low-key and somewhat admirable throughout the movie If anything, Bush comes off as what could be considered a sympathetic character. Sympathetic and way too oblivious and for the man who is supposed to be running the most powerful country in the world and that just doesn't seem right. Bush is certainly a President that will not be forgotten anytime soon but unfortunately, it's for all the wrong reasons.

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