My problem with "W." has to do with my own way of looking at the purpose of movie-making. Conceptually, I think Oliver Stone has done what he seems to do best--exploit a serious or non-fictional topic with a ridiculous fictional angle in order to draw people to his Hollywood extravaganzas. I feel after watching to movie, that my intelligence has been slightly insulted. The movie restates a lot of thoughts, feelings, quotes and facts that most people who would bother to see the movie already know. "W." offers nothing new, and as a film fails to have a strong point of view about anything that actually happened, instead trying to play off of audience sympathies with, as V. said, conjecture. The question I like to ask myself after seeing a movie is, "Why would I see this movie?" The answer can range from amusement to life-changing realization, and in this case, the answer was, "You know what-- because it's called 'W.' I was suckered in. I wish I hadn't. I wish I'd browsed the internet (though at least I did clean up the dishes)."
Len is absolutely right about this film insulting you're intelligence. If you're going to make a film about George Bush at this point in time, you have to take into account that it is going to be an emotionally charged subject for all Americans. And I do believe Oliver Stone understood that. Like Len said, I think Stone used that to his advantage. He probably thought, "Hey, I don't need to make a good movie. As long as I call it 'W.' and make Bush look like an idiot, plenty of people will give me their money to see it." The problem is, nobody in his/her right mind would pay $12.75 (NYC movie price) to see a bunch of "Bush is an idiot" jokes. There have been plenty of those over the past 8 years. So what does Stone do? He makes his movie look like a provocative look into the relatively unknown inner workings of the White House during the lead-up to the Iraq War. Great! Except that "W." is nowhere near that. It's fiction. Plain and simple. Nothing provocative about it. So what do you get? A half-serious, half-joking look at recent history that everyone is well-aware of (anyone intelligent anyway). Just another one of Stone's money-making schemes....not art, not film, not worth anyone's time!
I agree that this film is a money-making scheme, though I wouldn't go so far as to say its completely 100% fiction or that everyone intelligent that saw the movie would know exactly where to draw the line. That's why I think Stone is being amorally exploitative. I'm sure the movie was well researched, I'm sure the exaggerations and conjectures are deliberate and interspersed with facts, first hand accounts and some unavoidable unhappy conclusions based on what we do know of the inner workings of the white house "decision-makers." There is just no place for a story that is neither completely fact and reasonable conclusion nor just a good for laughs Colbert Report type rip on the presidency.
The last thing I would like to say is about the acting. I was told that the acting was worth watching just to see the looks of disgust and the tensions and the arguments surrounding President Bush's closest advisors. I was lied to. The writing is safe, out of touch and non provocative. The actors seem to take the bad writing as a cue to be completely unrealistic. I've never seen an argument between a father and son in which they pause in between yelling at each other. This pervasive distance, as if the actors were ashamed of participating in this movie and told themselves that they would only give 80% in their performances, added to the feeling I had throughout the movie of a total lack of investment on the part of the artist, and therefore a total lack of investment expected from the audience. Again, Stone apparently just wanted the money. This movie encourages us to perhaps care less about a travesty that pains many Americans personally, but not even in a way that gives any productive relief... it just... sits there.
When I said that this movie is "fiction, plain and simple," I meant in a categorical sense. If you look for the genre, it'll be listed as fiction. Historical fiction, but fiction nonetheless. My biggest gripe is that you get nothing new from this film. I love the genre of historical fiction when it is done correctly. It can show us parts of history in a fresh new light, or re-acquaint us with parts of history we may have forgotten. However, this movie has come out before Bush's presidency is up. We don't need to be re-acquainted with a trauma that we all still feel keenly. Neither does Stone show the events of the past 8 years in a new or fresh light. At the end of the day "W." is just a bad movie. It is not entertaining or thought-provoking. And what makes me angry is that Oliver Stone thinks he can make such a poor product and that I'm stupid enough to spend my money on it. Well, I did see it. But I saw it for free. Still, 2 hours of my life gone.