The History Place - Movie Review


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.

Bulworth - Official Website
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