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Tom Shillue

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‘Vice’ is a waste of talent and makes no attempt to understand Cheney

1.5 stars (out of four)

I loathed this film. It’s such a waste of talent because this has some of the finest actors in the business. The cast is headed by Christian Bale — who seems to have gained upwards of 40 pounds to play Dick Cheney — and Amy Adams, who is made up to look almost exactly like Lynn Cheney. Steve Carell plays Donald Rumsfeld, and Sam Rockwell plays President George W. Bush.

You have celebrity stars impersonating celebrity political leaders. The film has no point of view other than these are all monsters, they’re all terrible people, I hate them, I’m going after them. And there’s one little twist: there’s a narrator and we don’t know why this narrator knows what he knows until the very end. I won’t spoil the movie for those who persist in seeing it.

I’ve spoken with a number of other people who’ve seen this movie — including those who despise Cheney and Rumsfeld and Bush as political figures — but there’s no motivation here, there’s no attempt to understand what makes Cheney such a terrible person.

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You don’t go to a film like this to learn history. But you do go to have some reason to be sitting there, and this likely won’t even satisfy liberal audiences. It’s very confusing, it covers so much territory.

Simply on a human basis, the one point where the Cheneys look human at all is when their daughter, Mary, comes out as lesbian. It shows them embracing their daughter. In that, they look human, but honestly that’s the only moment in the film.

The most controversial scene in the film has Dick and Lynn Cheney suddenly breaking into Shakespearean dialogue with iambic pentameter — it’s very bad iambic pentameter — while they’re going to bed and preparing to have sex. It’s basically like Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Again, the terrible things about this is that during the funeral of George Herbert Walker Bush, there were a lot of people out there who said, “Wow, what an impressive guy. Why didn’t I know this about him before he died?”

It’s because we live in a raucous political environment. It is one of those films where you can probably get the best of it on DVD or video on demand after it’s released. Then you can just see the parts you’re interested in and look at the expert impersonations and get a kick out of that without having to sit through the whole tedious mess.

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