May 24, 1998 -- "Bulworth" is a good idea for a movie, but it runs short of ideas, and gas, long before the end of the film.
Warren Beatty stars as Jay Bulworth and directs this funny, but limited story of a politician who gets tired of giving speeches and decides to tell the truth. Exhausted and suicidal, he becomes a rapping politician, identifying with his poor constituents.
The film has some very funny scenes at the beginning of the film when Bulworth manages to offend not only the blacks at a church but also Jews at a Beverly Hills fund-raiser on the same day. The concept is a great one and there is literally no end to material for political parodies. So it is a real surprise when the film runs out of ideas.
After a few platitudes about socialized medicine and how politicians and the media are controlled by the same corporate interests, the Bulworth starts repeating himself. Challenging political conventions is fine if you have some new ideas to offer, but there are no new ideas here, just socialized medicine and free commercial air time for political advertising. The Bulworth character simply shifts his speeches from the trite political clichés of the right to the trite political clichés of the left.
There's a subplot about Bulworth hiring a hit man to kill him and his romantic interest in Nina (Halle Berry) a woman he meets on the campaign trail. That part of the film actually does work a bit, although it is slightly muddled. Bulworth becomes reinvigorated by his growing love for Nina and he becomes free to say what he thinks.
The lack of ideas and the lack of energy in the film eventually sap the life out of it. I also did not like the ending, which seemed out of place in a comedy. The ending made it appear as if Beatty could not decide where to go next with his character, as if he couldn't decide if he wanted to make a comedy or if he wanted to get serious. He tries to have it both ways. He should have stuck with comedy. This film rates a C.
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