Directed By: Warren Beatty (1998)
Starring: Warren Beatty, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, and
1998 was definitely THE year for political pictures, but someone out
there forgot to tell us that there were actually three (and not two) good
political comedies that were released that year. While "Wag the Dog,"
and "Primary Colors" captured all the kudos and our almighty dollar, "Bulworth"
was unjustly overlooked. Warren Beatty, who was involved in almost every
aspect of this hidden gem (the icon wrote, directed, produced, and starred
in the film), deserved better! Although the film did pick up an Oscar
nomination for its screenplay, it should have picked up a lot more viewers.
Do yourself a favor and pick this one up at your local video store. You'll
experience for yourself a hilarious movie which was bold enough to go
places where both "Wag," and "Primary" failed to go.
The film, in a nutshell, is a slapstick mixture of "It's a Wonderful
Life" and "Point of No Return," with a little "Liar Liar" thrown in for
good measure. Senator Jay Bulworth (Beatty) is having the political battle
of his life. He's aching to be reelected, but something suddenly hits
him -- his own campaign ads are turning his stomach. He just can't stand
the idea anymore that he barks bogus lies to the American people with
a grin on his face as big as the "Great Wall of China." He becomes extremely
depressed and begins to feel that his life is no longer worth living so
he takes out one of those huge blanket polices and arranges a hit man
to take him out so his daughter can collect big time.
With nothing to lose except the last few days of his miserable existence,
Bulworth uncharacteristically decides to tell the truth for once. He wastes
no time as he visits a church in South Central L.A. and tells the parishioners
to stop complaining because the reason that they have nothing is because
they haven't opened up their wallets to his political campaign. Just as
hilarious is when he attacks the attendees of a big dinner party in Tinseltown.
He has the gall to tell the all-powerful Hollywood suits that their pictures
are overpriced trash!
Bulworth soon hooks up with Nina (Halle Berry): a tough, young woman
who takes heart in his speeches. Thanks to Nina's guidance, the senator
begins to see the real injustices in the ghetto for the very first time.
As a result, he begins to talk to the people and tells them his agenda
with rap lyrics. At times, this novice rapper is a little over-the-top,
but his message is always on target.
The senator has miraculously rediscovered himself and thanks to his
new approach to life is rejuvenated enough to want his miserable life
back. The only problem is that the hit man that he hired is still ferociously
on his trail aiming to complete the job that he was assigned.
What's brilliant is that you've got a man who's done a literal 360,
wants to continue living life to the fullest, but isn't exactly sure if
and when he'll be having an intimate dinner with a bullet from a 350 Magnum.
You may or may not like what Bulworth is trying to say, but you certainly
cannot ignore it! This in-your-face, take-no-prisoners type of style will
keep you tuned in and interested throughout . The things that come out
of his mouth will not only shock and entertain you, but his brutal honesty
will make you think about the issues he's talking about. You may get a
little tired with his zany lyrics, but his overall message is powerful
enough that you easily overlook his much-to-be-desired singing ability.
Bulworth is not committing political suicide or losing his mind as his
aides think -- he's just saying it the way it is. It may be outrageous
and reckless, but all involved should be wise enough to listen carefully
to what he's got to say.
In addition to the film's razor sharp dialogue, Beatty's story of a
man who rediscovers his zest for life while trying desperately to call
off his own assassination works because of some solid acting across the
board. Berry (as Beatty's spunky love interest), who shows the senator
a thing or two about life, is solid as is Oliver Platt, as the senator's
drug addicted, super-hyper right hand, who's desperately trying to salvage
his own political career while trying to figure out what the hell happened
to his boss.
Although his costars are all wonderful, it is Beatty who makes the film
the must-see that it is. Even though he donned many hats here, he saved
a lot of his creative energy for his headlining role which made everything
else in the film tick. He was not only funny, but he delivered a potent
message with that trademark deadpan look of his in full effect.
Although the film had a conclusion that felt out of place, don't dismiss
the overall product because of a little misperfection at the very end.
The dialogue, storyline, and acting make it a must see for anyone who
like politics and for those who don't even have a clue what in the world
a constituent is.
"Bulworth" is a unique experience. It features a politician who says
what's on his mind -- offending everyone while pleasing no one. All he's
simply doing is telling the truth. Take a chance on Beatty and "Bulworth."
They won't let you down!