Day 327 - 11/23/09 - Movie #327
BEFORE: Well, I promised to get to politics in November, so Warren Beatty is my link. I've been meaning to watch this one for quite a while - I got an Academy screener of this a few years ago, so old it's on VHS!
THE PLOT: A suicidally disillusioned liberal politician puts a contract out on himself and takes the opportunity to be bluntly honest with his voters by affecting the rhythms and speech of hip-hop music and culture.
AFTER: Once again, Beattly plays a man whose life is very complicated and falling apart. This time, he's a senator from California who's having a midlife crisis - his wife is having an affair, he's 4 points behind in the polls, and he's going for days without food or sleep. One day he snaps and accidentally starts telling the truth - the REAL truth about how politics works, while campaigning in a black neighborhood.
At the same time, he's taken out a large insurance policy on himself, and hired a hitman to take himself out. But then he spends some time in a nightclub with Halle Berry and finds something to live for (she's been known to have that effect on men...) Unfortunately, Sen. Bulworth gets introduced to this new form of music called "rap" (note: film was made in 1998...) and he starts doing his sound bites and debates in rhyme. It's not really rap, it's just sort of loose verse the way he does it.
This leads to Bulworth dressing all street-like, and dropping some F-bombs on live TV. Unfortunately, even though this un-hip white guy visits South Central L.A. and learns a lot about how the other half lives, the references to black culture are very dated, and also overtly racist - every black man is either a rapper, a gangster, or a gangsta rapper.
Plus, we're never really sure if the senator's new policy of speaking honestly is sincere, or if the change in his personality is just caused by the lack of sleep, or the drugs, or if he's truly gone bonkers.
It's a shame, because some of the issues raised in the film, such as people demanding health-care, and the insurance companies dragging their feet in providing it, are very timely. It's just too bad that they're buried under a pile of bad rhymes and racial stereotypes.
Supporting work by Oliver Platt, Josh Malina ("West Wing"), Don Cheadle, Nora Dunn, Laurie Metcalf, Paul Sorvino, Sean Astin, and Jack Warden (Beatty's co-star from "Heaven Can Wait")
RATING: 5 out of 10 exit polls