Rating -

  Satire (US); 1998; Rated R; 108 Minutes

Warren Beatty: Jay Billington Bulworth
Halle Berry: Nina
Oliver Platt: Dennis Murphy
Don Cheadle: L.D.
Paul Sorvino: Graham Crocket
Jack Warden: Eddie Davers

Produced by Warren Beatty, Pieter Jan Brugge, Frank Capra, Lauren Shuler-Donner and Victoria Thomas; Directed and screenwritten by Warren Beatty

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Written by DAVID KEYES

Before taking anything into context about "Bulworth," at first think of Warren Beatty, the creator, and wonder if, perhaps, there something terribly wrong with him here. This is a man whose been in some of the finest American films ever made (i.e., "Bonnie And Clyde" and "Bugsy"), and so it comes as quite a shock when his newest picture turns out to be one of the worst of 1998. Yes, "Bulworth" features some highly creative tastes, but even these tastes have their limits, and what Warren Beatty does here is give us a film that totally insults his profession and his audience by taking these tastes beyond extremes. Unlike most critics, I found "Bulworth" to be utterly nauseating--I do not find anything amusing about a presidential candidate who one day decides to insult his non-followers in hopes of gaining publicity in his campaign.

Wait, I'm wrong. This CAN be a great setup for a movie. It can be done wonderfully--perfectly, even. Yet, for some reason, "Bulworth" does not do anything but tick audiences off with its repetitive negative remarks to Catholics, African Americans, and other groups which would consider this material to be biased crap. And between these often-used lines from Beatty's character himself, the movie is a boredom of disconnected and ruthlessly dead scenes which would fit perfectly together if the subject matter was not so tasteless and repugnant. This material can be one of two things--good or bad. Not mixed. Once the subject matter is unbalanced, so is the whole movie, because it applies to every scene in the movie. Therefore, if "Bulworth" were not so shallow and and cruel, everything would have fit together perfectly and made a decent movie.

This observation is confusing, but you'll understand why I say it later. Now the movie: it's one of the biggest disappointments ever. Indeed, Beatty himself knows how to produce and direct good films, but he's gone over his head this time. He's a democratic Senator in California who, when running for reelection to office, comes to the realization that his campaign, his trend, and everything he stands for is all a lie and a scam to the public. So, after taking out a life insurance policy on himself and (for some demented reason) hiring a hit man from the Mafia to put a bounty on his own head, decides to give the public what they want--honesty. And boy, his opinions are the most honest I've seen. He uses racist remarks, cuss words, and other such lewd things in all of his campaign speeches and interviews, to the point where his image is an absolute poor one.

It's not like this is a bad idea, but Bulworth's remarks and opinions are downright disturbing and offensive. Nothing is entertaining about him slapping down mean words to his public and his followers, and nothing is entertaining about him cussing and screaming to get an audiences attention.

This all gets to the point where Senator Bulworth's image begins to get more popular and popular, all to the point where Bulworth comes to the realization that, perhaps, he has a chance at winning the election. He then attempts to relieve the bounty on his head so he can live, but that's not an easy task, considering that, after all, this is the Mafia we are talking about.

This story outline, like usual, is filled with subplots and twists, all which are directly opposing forces in Bulworth's new campaign. For one, he falls in love with a black woman named Nina, played by Halle Berry, but what will this do to his image? After all, he insults the African Americans. What would his voters think?

To tell you the truth, I didn't care. I was so overwhelmingly mad at the way Bulworth handled his racial remarks that every other thing sustained in the film's plot did not matter. If the film's plot had been based on Shakespearean literature, the movie still would have been displeasing, for the simple fact that these negative remarks are downright mean and offensive. Oh, racial stereotypes and similar things can go good with movies, but even they have their limits, and "Bulworth" crosses the line in every way. I cannot even give the movie a half star rating--that's how intrusive it is. A note to Warren Beatty: next time you want to insult someone in such a way, insult yourself for doing this movie.

1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org. Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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