In a word: B-O-R-I-N-G....

Josh Brolin ("No Country for Old Men" and "American Gangster") is excellent as George W. Bush, but the script is lame and the sound is horrible. It was very difficult to discern the political strategizing and the sly humor. I hasten to add that I wasn't the only one who wasn't laughing. The (mostly) liberal crowd found very little to laugh about, even though everyone came in primed and ready to laugh. Case in point: when Bush made a speech in Congress, we were treated to news clips of the Clintons, Lieberman, Pelosi, and Kennedy listening to him with varying degrees of attention and the audience responded with a respectful hush. When John McCain's face flashed briefly on the screen, the crowd burst into laughter. This tells me they were eager to be amused.

This movie lacks focus. The first-rate cast is mostly wasted despite some spot-on impressions:
  • Thandie Newton ("The Pursuit of Happyness" and "Run, Fatboy, Run") is a wonder as Condoleezza Rice.
  • Elizabeth Banks ("Comanche Moon" and "Definitely, Maybe") is a convincing Laura Bush.
  • Ellen Burstyn ("The Fountain" and "Lovely, Still") makes a refreshingly forthright Barbara Bush.
  • Jeffrey Wright ("The Invasion" and the upcoming James Bond movie "Quantum of Silence") is a thoughtful and honorable General Colin Powell.

It seemed to me that director Oliver Stone ("JFK" and "Any Given Sunday") shot a much longer film and tried to edit it down to pivotal moments, e.g., Bush's frustration about the search for weapons of mass destruction and whether or not he should use the term "Axis of Evil" in a major speech. Consequently, for these actors, their best scenes were probably cut:

  • Colin Hanks ("The House Bunny" and "Untraceable") is one of President Bush's speechwriters.
  • James Cromwell ("The Queen" and "Becoming Jane") is George H.W. Bush, shown here by Stone as a distant father, first frustrated, next mystified, and ultimately apologetic for his eldest son.
  • Richard Dreyfuss ("Poseidon") as Dick Cheney. In 2001 he played Alexander Haig in television's "The Day Reagan Was Shot."
  • Scott Glenn ("Nights in Rodanthe" and "The Bourne Ultimatum") as Donald Rumsfield.
  • Ioan Gruffudd ("Amazing Grace" and "The TV Set") is sadly wasted as Tony Blair. Where, oh where, is Michael Sheen when you need him?

Some of the scenes were delicious: The perspiring little cluster of over-the-hill desk jockeys trying to keep up a tactical conversation with Bush while trudging down a dirt track on his Crawford, Texas ranch; any scene with Toby Jones ("Infamous" and "City of Ember") as Karl Rove; Brolin's ability to talk with his mouth full -- I was dazzled! However, despite these gems, the crowd left in a remarkably constrained mood.

In my opinion, Stone has misunderestimated his audience....smile...