Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Overlooked Movies -- Bulworth

When Judy and I saw this in the theater, we both thought it was very funny.  We also thought it was kind of a mess.  Warren Beatty plays Jay Billington Bulworth, a senator from California who's running for reelection.  He's pretty much a cinch to lose, and he's tired of the whole game.  So, using a very old crime-fiction gimmick, he hires someone to kill him.  Anybody who's read a crime novel or two knows that as soon as someone does that, he immediately finds a lot of reasons to live.  And that's what happens here.  There's a twist to the contract deal, though.  Bulworth sells out to the insurance crowd, offering them his vote for a $10 million policy, payable to his daughter.  

Knowing he's going to be killed, Bulworth starts drinking, smoking pot, and having a great time.  He says what he's really thinking.  Naturally the public falls in love with him.  Now it looks like he might actually win the election.  More twists follow.  

This is a message movie, as well as a comedy.  Sometimes it feels as if Beatty is sitting in the seat beside you, nudging you with his elbow and saying, "Get it?  Get it?"  Or maybe hitting you on the head with a hammer instead of nudging.  I think it helps if you're a little to the left if you want to enjoy the movie, but nobody will need the nudging.  The points are all obvious.

The cast is great.  Halle Berry has never looked better, Beatty is awkwardly funny, and Oliver Platt, Don Cheadle, and Jack Warren all do fine turns.  The ending is pretty messed up, another twist that you'll see coming, I'm sure.  And the message at the end really goes over the top.  No nudging.  More like a sledgehammer.  But I enjoyed the movie.  It's nearly 20 years old not, but I think you'll find that things haven't changed a bit.


Jeff Meyerson said...

I don't think I've seen it since the original run but I do remember liking it, despite the total lack of subtlety (yes, 'sledgehammer' is apt) of Beatty's message.

I miss Jack Warden. I was just thinking of his role in SO FINE the other day.


Deb said...

I remember very little about the movie except that its racial politics were, well, "misguided" would perhaps be the kindest word. A bit of a "white savior" story. The other thing I remember was being shocked at how much obvious work Beatty had had done to his face. He only made a couple more movies after this. I guess Annette Bening's supporting the family these days.

Unknown said...

Supposedly he's recently completed his long-in-the-works Howard Hughes project. Maybe it will even make it to the screen.

Todd Mason said...

Remember when Beatty was being suggested as a potential rival for the presidential nomination against Clinton and Bill Bradley, as the left-leaning Democratic hopeful? About the time of this film's release. Sad times, indeed.

Unknown said...

Loved it!