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Vice

***

by Matt Anderson

published December 22, 2018

This is a clever movie, America. But it's not a documentary.

Life's a Stage

Give Christian Bale the Oscar. He nailed my mannerisms and tics. My measured speech patterns. How I gargle. No one else has delivered such an impeccable performance in 2018, at least not in the movies.

Bale's commitment to his craft goes beyond commendation. Gaining weight to match my physique is a feat in itself. But I've seen he's already lost all that weight and then some, nearly going all the way back to his Machinist weight level. Um. Christian. I'm sure that's not healthy. And you might very well wind up in the hospital time and again. Like I have. And you know that. Because you portrayed me surviving those heartbreaking episodes. (Yes. I can be funny.)

Keep in mind this is merely an entertainment. Even the opening — in a surprisingly honest fashion, especially by Hollywood's standards for honesty — reveals the movie as such. A note appears on the screen commenting on how secretive I am. So the filmmakers did the best they could in piecing together the "facts." They even drop an "F" bomb in this bit. Fair play. This movie is rated "R" and is intended for those who self-identify as a "mature" audience member.

No life filled with accomplishments is devoid of controversy or the ruffling of some feathers. Appeasement is a boring storyline. In my storied career, I've certainly ruffled many a feather. And I'm proud of it. Somebody had to in order to make America great again. (Don't forget: Reagan said it first.)

Vice is jam-packed with feather-ruffling people. Do you remember these names? Karl Rove. Roger Ailes. Donald Rumsfeld. Richard Nixon. Henry Kissinger. Hillary Clinton. Colin Powell. Osama Bin Laden. Saddam Hussein. Anthony Scalia. Jimmy Carter. George H.W. Bush. George W. Bush.

W. What a card. Sam Rockwell does a tremendous job in portraying my former boss. Kudos. Way to follow-up that big ol' Oscar win for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Taste for the Theatrical

I'll give it to Adam McKay, the director of this motion picture. He knows how to shake up traditional storytelling, as he did with The Big Short. He veers in and out and around various episodes in my life. Of course, he starts with one of the more embarrassing experiences, when I was a reckless kid, picking fights, getting drunk and then getting behind the wheel of a street-legal weapon. That was the early 1960s. Life was different back then.

And, by the way, anybody want to talk about Chappaquiddick? I know it's a little off topic, but I thought I'd make the offer.

Anyway, it sure is entertaining to see me and my lovely wife, Lynne, spout Shakespearean dialogue while in bed. Amy Adams disappears behind the makeup and lives the character. Her chemistry with Christian Bale is far superior to that ice-cold romance she had with Superman. That was ghastly.

Now, granted, I'm not an actor. Not by trade. But I do need to ask: what's up with Steve Carell? Sure, he looks all right, at least as the older Rumsfeld. But as far as actors go, he's got one note. It doesn't matter if he's playing that nitwit in the Anchorman movies or Donald Rumsfeld, his voice sounds the same. No modulation. Or maybe Carell's a bigger genius than all of us. Maybe he's trying to equate Brick Tamland and Donald Rumsfeld as equals. I doubt it, though. Seriously.

But, back to McKay. He's devised a very clever framework around which he weaves my sundry adventures in and out of the political arena. I'm not one for spoiling anything, including America's natural resources. So, I won't say anything more about this other than the reveal made me jump in my seat. Well done, Mr. McKay. You tell stories well.

Stoking the Flames

But they are stories told with a slant, from one point of view determined by the Hollywood elite to be the definitive point of view. In this case, the "elite" includes producers Will Ferrell and Brad Pitt.

It's funny. After the end credits begin, there's a segment involving a focus group. One man complains about the bias in the movie and an over-the-top, heated argument ensues, even bringing President Trump into the conversation. The liberals are presented as understanding facts while the conservatives... Well, they're nuts.

Here's an interesting question, though. Who's this movie for? In the audience with me were two social groups with liberal leanings as their connecting point. Clearly, this is up their alley. And, perhaps, more broadly there are people who will simply appreciate the craftmanship and observe the humor and the fanciful storytelling from a safe distance.

I've heard of this type of movie — using the parlance of the motion picture industry — referred to as "Oscar bait." From my own completely unbiased and purely objective point of view, this is certainly not the year's best movie. As I said earlier, I took it as a piece of entertainment, but one that's more inclined to perpetuate divisiveness rather than healing.

It's been a rough couple decades for this great country. You can criticize my choices, but as Christian Bale says directly to the camera at the end, I did what the Republic asked me to do.

Kind regards,
Dick