Boy, some movies are good for conversation afterward, and this one may be the best of the year. If you feel like fighting with your date, look no further: "Bulworth" is an incendiary movie guaranteed to get your synapses firing again.
When Jay Bulworth (Warren Beatty) experiences a suicidal nervous breakdown, he takes out an insurance policy on his own life, then hires a hit man to kill him before the Tuesday night election. Freed of any responsibility for his actions, Bulworth drops his usual "beginning of a new millennium" drone and starts being brutally, horribly honest. He accuses a black church of "standing behind a man who stabbed his wife," tells the entertainment industry that he "always has the big Jews on the schedule," and then immerses himself, fish-outta-water style, in the hip-hop culture of downtown Los Angeles.
Spending the next days rhyming in the most Caucasian rap possible, he dresses like one of the Beastie Boys and falls in love with Halle Berry, who has some secrets of her own. The movie succeeds largely on your ability to get on the bus with Beatty; if you're not believing his rap (either metaphorically or literally), you're going to spend most of the movie thinking he's an utter idiot.
But those willing to reserve judgement are in for a treat: it's some of the wittiest, funniest dialogue in recent history. Beatty's tightrope act strings heavy-duty themes and political agendas up like a circus act, and it's endlessly enjoyable.
African-American audiences might think that his world view is overtly simplistic (and they'd be right—Beatty adopts black culture like dorky college radio DJ's adopt long-dead blues singers as heroes), and his view of the public—a populace hungry for truth—is something he can't possibly believe, if he's remotely intelligent. But up until the movie's final, moaningly Capra-esque moments, "Bulworth" maintains an intensity that is hard to resist. Like all movies with glaringly obvious agendas, it tries to do too much, and that's a welcome change in these parts. With Oliver Platt and Paul Sorvino.
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