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This movie deserves to be on two lists — the most disappointing movies of the year, and the most overrated movies of the year. It wouldn’t be as frustrating if it weren’t so overrated by other critics. Maybe their blind hatred of Bush and Cheney just means they’d like this no matter how bad a film it is. And believe me, it’s bad. It’s not the least bit funny. It’s not a very cohesive narrative, and…well, my wife and I both wondered who this movie is even for. It’s not entertaining, and it’s just a mess masquerading as satire. It’s also confusing why the movie is titled “Vice” rather than simply “Cheney”. Titling it “Vice” makes it sound like a cop picture.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Adam McKay’s Oscar-winning The Big Short, but it was entertaining enough. He brought Christian Bale back, who in preparation for playing Dick Cheney, bought a special machine to lift weights with his neck. He also gained lots of weight. Also, why when Bale gains weight for a role, does he have to include a scene showing his gut? He did that in American Hustle, and it made no sense. We get it, you like pulling a De Niro/Raging Bull, but it should have to work with the story if you’re showing your body (I forgive him doing it with the weight loss in The Machinist, because that was so good).

When the movie starts, we hear voice over by Jesse Plemons (who also plays Cheney’s brother). His narrative framing device was horribly done.

He tells us, in the mid-60s after a DUI and when Cheney was working on power lines, that he “is a ne’er-do-well. Or in today’s parlance, a dirtbag.”

Uh, really? Now, I’m not a fan of Bush/Cheney, but that seems like it’s editorializing a lot in the narration. Perhaps McKay could’ve shown us instead of constantly telling us.

Also, it was a bad decision to have Bale talk in Cheney’s early days using the same cadence we see him speaking in later in life. I don’t think he spoke that way as a younger man, especially in conversations where he’s talking with his girlfriend/wife Lynn (Amy Adams). It would be like making a movie about William Shatner, and as a teenager, he would be speaking with those weird pauses we all do when we imitate him.

Bale did a good job inhabiting Cheney, but it felt a bit too much like an impersonation you might see on Saturday Night Live.

So anyway, Cheney was supposedly a drunken loser with no ambition, but Lynne pushes him to do more.

When I really checked out of this movie was seeing Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld. He looked nothing like him, and he played he as a buffoon. That’s the same with Rockwell as George W. Bush, but at least with Bush, I had already thought of him as one. I don’t buy this version of Rumsfeld at all.

The Rumsfeld conversations with Cheney also didn’t seem the least bit believable, and when you’re watching fictional conversations with real people…they need to be.

In a bizarre casting decision, Tyler Perry plays Colin Powell.

LisaGay Hamilton as Condolezza Rice and Alison Pill as Mary Cheney…worked better.

I’ve never been a fan of breaking the fourth wall, but it was kind of fun in The Big Short. And it helped explain complicated things to the audience. It also helped include some fun cameos. In this, it was to lecture the audience for letting Cheney do all this. Oy.

This is just glib garbage, with McKay thinking he’s made a clever film. It’s 2 ½ hours of torture.

I think I would’ve rather had Cheney and his goons waterboard me than sit through this.

0 stars.




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