Lacks the Interest of Stone's "Nixon"
Reviewed by criddic2 for W. at 2011-04-22 02:14:07
Like him or hate him, George W. Bush was one of the more engaging personalities to occupy the White House. Josh Brolin does capture some of that in this movie, but neither he or the director (Oliver Stone) seem to know what they want to say about the man. Some scenes go for muted satire, while others go for strained drama. Very few have the feeling of authenticity. Maybe that's because they couldn't (or wouldn't) explore these people as they really are, going mainly for who they are perceived to be by some. Stone was able to bring compelling character backround and historical balance to his "Nixon" in 1995 (with the help of the great Anthony Hopkins). Here he doesn't even approach that. It delves lightly, rather than deeply, into the story of a president who was popular enough to win re-election and controversial enough to inspire fierce debate over his policies. We don't get into much of that in 'W,' since the focus is on the first term and the father/son relationship between two presidents.
As soon as 'quirky' or 'offbeat' comes up, it's usually warning radar for a good dose of corniness, but the preview looked so good, I had to rent this. It doesn't disappoint! Wood and Douglas are both wonderful in their daughter-father roles. Douglas really makes you root for his character, Charlie. Miranda has quit high school to work at McDonald's and pay the rent on the old family home while he's 'away', only to find when he gets out that he is ridiculously obsessed with finding supposed Spanish treasure hidden in the urban jungle of California. Miranda tries not to play along, but Charlie's intense vigor for his pursuit and freewheeling optimistic attitude make a reluctant believer out of her. Their treks through golf courses, land developments, sod farms and finally, that consumer giant of all, Costco! are a reminder of what California used to be, a wild land of opportunity and wonder and open desert, rather than mini-malls and concrete. This movie captures the sentiment without being syrupy and the 'never give up' attitude of Charlie is a reminder to live life by following your dreams, no matter how farfetched.