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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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New 'W' trailer: A walk on the wild side with Bush

July 28, 2008 |  5:40 pm

It was just a couple of weeks ago that conservative commentators were all saying that liberals were humorless dolts, offering as Exhibit A the outraged reaction to the New Yorker's hilarious Barack Obama as Muslim terrorist cover cartoon. So I'm betting those same commentators will heartily embrace Lionsgate's first teaser trailer for Oliver Stone's "W," which just posted today on YouTube (with the admonition: "This is not a fake"), focusing on the young Dubya, acting like he's starring in a boozy remake of "Old School."

The reason "W" got turned down at every big studio in town wasn't because anyone was politically nervous about making the movie--Bush is too unpopular today to worry even the most timid Hollywood studio chief. In fact, the studio that came closest to saying yes was the Rupert Murdoch owned 20th Century Fox, which figured that having Fox release a wild-eyed anti-Bush movie would cause so much buzz that it would be a unique marketing ingredient unto itself.

Etbush The real worry has always been that the story itself was HBO docudrama material, with too many talky scenes set in White House war rooms. The Lionsgate trailer shrewdly explodes that notion. It opens with Dubya (played by Josh Brolin) being dressed down by his dad ("I remember correctly, you didn't like the sporting goods job...") before careening off into hard-partying, tail-chasing territory, ending up with the infamous drunken-driving incident that prompts another stern lecture from Bush Sr. (played by James Cromwell), who says derisively: "Who do you think you are, a Kennedy? You're a Bush. Act like one." To make sure we get the point, the scenes are accompanied by George Thorogood's version of the roadhouse standard "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer."

The music then shifts to the serene "It's a Wonderful World," which plays as the trailer poses a question that could perhaps make us curious enough to see the movie in a theater. It asks: "What Drove George W. Bush ... From Here ..." (Dubya brawling with his old man) "To Here?" (Dubya in the Oval Office, cowboy boots cockily propped up on his desk). Movie executives always preach, ad nauseam, that a successful film needs a hero who overcomes a series of obstacles, making him a very different person at film's end from what he was at the beginning. "W" sounds like it fits the bill quite nicely, as long as you grade on a curve when it comes to the part about overcoming the obstacles. 

Photo of George W. Bush by Evan Vucci / Associated Press

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