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IN SHORT: A Foul-mouthed and Brilliant political satire.
First off and straight to the point, Warren Beatty's Bulworth is funny, enjoyable and good flick. But I'll begin the easy way, by listing every one who absolutely, positively will hate this sucker hands down. You will hate Bulworth if . . .
You have no tolerance for four letter words of the kind not tolerated on television or radio (and God knows there are a helluva lot of 'em) OR You like having a lot of political preaching shoved in your face regardless of the clothes it is wearing OR you don't think the grass is greener on the other side, 'cuz you've got yourself surrounded by a couple of acres of fine Kentucky sod OR you don't like a movie that's visually and thematically something different. . .
. . . 'cuz that's what Bulworth is, different. From the opening credits, which numb you to the political process with endless repetitions of numerous commercials with only minuscule changes made in them, to the final fade to black Cranky sat there (for a good two thirds of it, at least) thinking "what the hell is Beatty doing"? All the while I'm laughing at Beatty's characterization of the fine, upstanding US Senator from California, Jay Bigelston Bulworth, who has a nervous breakdown at the end of an election campaign and confronts reality by morphing into a gangsta rapper.
Yeah, the description sounds dumb. The television commercials make is sound even dumber. But Bulworth is an amazing and couched-in-comedy attack on double talk and two faced-ness at almost every level of American life, from the men in suits who have their hands in the pockets of the politicians to the drug dealers in the ghetto hiding behind children. Cranky doesn't think you'll find much in the way of middle ground on this one. You'll either absolutely hate it or you'll love it. Only the extraordinary use of the "f" word in all its variations gets in the way of a total rave.
Beatty's Bulworth has just lost his literal shirt by shorting pork bellies in a rising market; poor, poor stupid, greedy white man. Tool of the insurance lobby that he is, Bulworth first arranges for a very large life insurance policy, courtesy lobbyist Graham Crockett (Paul Sorvino), and then arranges for his own murder. With no food or sleep for five days, with only his own, unspoken paranoia to keep him going, Bulworth falls apart on the campaign trail. On that trail is a campaign aide (Oliver Platt) who sees his political career going down in flames, a wife (Christine Baranski) who's sleeping with the political opposition, a C-SPAN crew taping every minute of his last days on Earth and a very lovely African-American named Nina (Halle Berry) into whose arms the Senator literally falls.
Bulworth's raps take aim at both the Republicans and the Democrats. Cranky doesn't necessarily buy rap music as a metaphor for the voice of the people, which is what the script infers, but it does serve the comedic purpose to make whitebread look dumb and thus hide the political message. Warren Beatty's performance is extraordinary. The stupidity of his look and dress as a rapper are only a mask for the acid tongue of his script, which will leave you lots to talk about as you walk out of the theater.
Here's a start: should poor people get handouts? Are rich people self-absorbed with dollar signs? Do Democrats give a hoot? Do Republicans? And how can you laugh at a film which attacks almost everything that may (or may not) be right (or wrong) with America.
It's either that or you won't buy the flick at all, in which case you can tell me I'm full of it. Cranky, for the great part, enjoyed Bulworth.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Bulworth, he would have paid . . .
Cranky talks the rave and marks the flick down a notch for its vomitous use of four letter words. I don't like 'em in rap music and I don't like 'em here.
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