Release: 1998, 20th Century Fox Starring: Warren Beatty, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Oliver Platt, Paul Sorvino, Jack Warden, Isaiah Washington, Christine Baranski Director: Warren Beatty MPAA Rating: [R] language, sexuality, violence Genre: Comedy/Political
Having lived the double-talking, butt-kissing facade of a politician long enough, Senator Jay Bulworth (Beatty) finally breaks down, and goes on a suicide campaign in which he expresses every politically incorrect thought that crosses his mind.
Wag the Dog was laden with too much far fetched government conspiracy. Primary Colors was bogged down with self-serving, preachy idealism. Yet after all these mediocre efforts at political commentary, Bulworth comes along and blows them all away by taking a completely different approach: rather than attempts at clever or snide remarks, the Warren Beatty film takes shots at government office by being as frank and blatant as possible in an actively comical manner. As Senator Bulworth, Beatty has the enviable role of a man who says exactly what's on his mind. Forget political correctness, forget humility, forget brown nosing the commoner for a vote. Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason--there's usually a basis of truth somewhere in its history. And Bulworth exploits that, even revels in it. The greatest moments in this film come in the form of Bulworth's blunt statements that give no regard to race and class. The whole notion of a movie coming out and striving to cancel politically correct drivel is refreshing in and of itself. Uptight folks who actually take personal offense to this movie are exactly the type of people the film is really poking fun at.
Unfortunately, Bulworth's politically incorrect rampage doesn't sustain momentum throughout the course of the film. In fact, many of the best moments have been compacted into the trailer, giving the somewhat false impression that that is all this film is about. Too bad, really, because two hours of slandering lobbyists and activists would have made for the best movie of the year. As it stands, Bulworth is eventually suffocated by a run of the mill subplot which finds the Senator snared in a web of insurance fraud and fleeing from a bumbling hitman trying to take him out. Hilarious tell-it-like-it-is commentary is abandoned for wacky high speed chases.
Further, much of Bulworth's political incorrectness is watered down by wordless apologies. For example, the fact that he falls in love with a black woman (Berry) takes some air out of his stereotypical remarks about the black community. Jay Bulworth should have been a man people love to hate, but instead he turns out to be a man who just happens to be in an occupation people hate. He needn't be a racist, but he should have been able to sustain an offensive edge till the closing act.
Rating: 6 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)