By Fred Harvey
The History Place
I went to the movies expecting to enjoy a funny
send-up of political correctness and political 'boringness' but came away
feeling like I had been in church listening to a sermon by Rev. Beatty.
Bulworth is the new comedy produced, written,
directed by and starring Warren Beatty as an out of control California
Senator running for re-election in 1996. As the story begins, he is deeply
depressed, not eating, not sleeping and basically wants to end it all.
After obtaining a big insurance policy, Senator Bulworth hires a hitman
to finish himself off to end his misery and also provide a large settlement
for his daughter.
He is then ushered by his unknowing handlers to
a campaign appearance before a group of African Americans. He starts his
prepared speech but on the spur of the moment decides to chuck it and take
questions from the audience. Thus begins the adventure as Senator Bulworth
tells it like it is - Archie Bunker style - regardless of the consequences.
Staunch conservative Archie Bunker from the TV
show All in the Family was actually funnier than limousine liberal Bulworth.
But they both have one thing in common - the late 1960s. Beatty's sentiments
as expressed by Senator Bulworth in 1996 are actually a throwback to 60's
style liberalism. The 'establishment' consists of big bad businessmen and
fuddy duddy politicians who have sold out to the big bad businessmen. Everybody's
sold out except the kooky Senator.
And the longer he goes without sleep the kookier
he gets and the more he tells it like it is, eventually even mentioning
the S word (socialism). It turns out that Americans actually admire his
wacky honesty and later vote for him in droves, even suggesting a possible
run for president. Really?
As the flick continues we get a bunch of comic
diatribes from Beatty/Bulworth on a variety of complicated American political
and social problems, offering simplistic explanations and quick sounding
solutions. It's like listening to your twelve year old talk politics.
To keep the comedy going, the Senator spends a
lot of time among stereotyped inner city African Americans amid an obscenity
laced, rap music soundtrack. I have to admit it made me gag to see young
black boys portrayed as gun toting drug merchants for the sake of playing
off the goofy lameness of a middle aged white guy thrust in their midst.
The twists and turns of the plot regarding the
hitman resemble TV cop show writing and for the most part were transparent.
And I really disliked the cheap ending. Overall, this film is certainly
no laugh fest, but there are funny moments, if you can stomach Rev. Beatty.
Rated R - For language.