Editor’s notes: Bush gets ‘Stoned’

Brock Harrington

Watching an Oliver Stone movie is like watching “Celebrity Rehab” on VH1. Rich, talented people suffering from crack addictions and alcohol excess shouldn’t be good television, but it is. As much as it ticks you off to watch a wealthy individual throw his or her life away, you can’t stop watching. Why? Because Gary Busey is too damn interesting.

This is what I think of Oliver Stone’s movies – not the first five or six movies, I mind you. “Greed is good,” said Gordon Gecko of “Wall Street,” and the first casualty of war is innocence, as stated in “Platoon.” But come on, did anyone else see “Alexander?” How about “Any Given Sunday?” Or how about “Nixon?” All these movies were so terribly bad that I watch them when they’re on TV.

But this time, I avoided the DVD and saw “W.” on Monday, and boy it could have used Gary Busey.

If you hate Bush, which most of you do judging by his approval rating – which is lower than the popularity of crack among PTA mothers – then you may see this movie and love it. However, to avoid this column from becoming a political endorsement for Barack Obama, I’ll stick with the movie and leave politics out of it.

Those of you who are planning on seeing this movie with Oscar expectations, you’ll be disappointed because no movie with acting this poor is ever going to win one.

Thandie Newton is good in “Run Fatboy Run.” She’s good in “The Pursuit of Happyness.” But Thandie, you were awful as Condoleeza Rice. What you did in “W.” wasn’t even acting – it was putting on a funny face and talking like a cartoon character.

Josh Brolin is decent in the movie, and I assume that there was no other actor with a Texas ruggedness and appeal. I mean, it was either Brolin or Matthew McConaughey. Brolin isn’t acting. He’s doing an impression of “W.” for two hours. On another note, how great is it that Brolin’s stepmom is Barbra Streisand?

Richard Dreyfuss plays an angry Richard Dreyfuss. To say he does an adequate job as the infamous vice president is a stretch. I don’t know if Dick Cheney is going to bomb Iraq or hunt for a shark in this movie.

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh on the acting, but I haven’t even gotten to the directing. Oliver Stone always has a tendency to spend time hypothesizing on why the person is the way they appear, rather than storytelling. Stone shows us that Bush recovered from an addiction to alcohol, but shouldn’t that play a bigger part? We go from Bush chugging Bloody Marys at lunch to Bush being in a church six months later. Stone spends more time developing a father-son rift than focusing on the recovery.

Was there a rift? Who knows?

Stone does a mediocre job showing the rise of Bush, but then totally disregards the whole 2000 election, which Bush may be remembered for more than anything else.

Then there’s the war. The movie is all about the war, which is fitting of Bush’s presidency. The buildup, the anticipation, the war hawks – it’s all there. Stone does it, but then in the middle of building it up, he’ll flashback to 1971 for a college party. I love Stoney.

In the end, Stone is two clicks to the right of Michael Moore, but he doesn’t paint horns on Bush’s head. Instead, Stone seems to make the president a sympathetic figure. The impression I got was that Stone was aiming to make Bush out to be a normal, stupid – not unintelligent – person. He is a person who relied on individuals whom he believed would make the world a better place, and instead, he started a war that has no end in sight.

Oliver Stone, for the love of movies, please stick to non-biopic historical movies, and go back to the Charlie Sheen Oliver Stone I loved.

Contact guest columnist and sports editor Brock Harrington [email protected].