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Starring Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, Ellen Burstyn, James Cromwell, Scott Glenn, Stacey Keach, Bruce McGill, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright
Screenplay by Stanley Weiser
Directed by Oliver Stone

IN SHORT: It's too soon to speak of the politically dead. [Rated PG-13 for language including sexual references, some alcohol abuse, smoking and brief disturbing war images. 129 minutes]

To be honest, with the economy on the brink and the various overseas military "engagements" either triumphant successes or under funded disasters -- we're trying to write from the middle and not infuriate all 'quick to hit the email button' hot headed readers out there -- ADDED to the overwhelming celebrity image of director Oliver Stone, we honestly expected W. to be something akin to a Shredding of the President, 2008. Or something.

Our own feelings about the sitting president aside, and there is nothing as dangerous as fictionalizing factual situations, especially when the subjects are still breathing, we found Stone's W. to be remarkably fair and balanced... and you don't know how much it hurts to use that despicable Fox Broadcasting catchphrase. Stone's film takes no positions on any of the most controversial aspects of the current presidency, instead it concentrates on the individual himself. We are presented with a George Bush who is, for the  most part, a layabout. Graduate of Yale, the well known party school. Graduate of Harvard Business with a father (James Cromwell) in Congress and later president pulling strings to help his son find a proper place in life; we were left with the overwhelming feeling that the George W. Bush of this fictionalized factual film would have been happier if he  had stayed in his position as a major league baseball team owner.

The film's position, that W.'s rise in politics was spurred by a sibling rivalry with brother Jeb (governor of Florida) and that the war in Iraq was (or may have) been influenced by the father-son relationship is sure interesting -- and we won't spill the film's position on the latter, though it is exactly what we've been saying for years -- but it is incredibly difficult to walk the line between views of screaming left and/or right wingers and deliver a film that will soften the noise or promote discussion or, more important, make a viewer happy that he or she paid the money to see the film on the big screen.

No one will be happy with W. Given that we pay attention to the reactions of a (relatively) normal audience  we can report that only one viewer walked out of the film, yelling stuff that was unintelligible by any standard. More to the point there was no audible or obvious reaction, pro or con from the folk who sat for the entire film.

We can be very positive about the cast and performances in the film, especially Richard Dreyfuss as "vice" (president Dick Cheney); Ellen Burstyn and Elizabeth Banks as Barbara and Laura Bush, respectively; Thandie Newton as (then) National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Scot Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld and Bruce McGill as CIA Director George Tenet. One scene in which the buck gets passed among the politicos with amazing speed, post invasion of Iraq, is almost worth sitting through the entire film.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to W., he would have paid . . .


We do believe that anything with any kind of merit should be seen on a big screen. For those not driven to the local cineplex, wait to rent and plant in front of the biggest screen you can get access to.

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