Bulworth

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Bulworth

Warren Beatty stars in Bulworth as an aging, conservative Democratic senator in the pocket of his wealthy campaign contributors. Distraught because of his own corruption and the sad state of American politics, he hires an assassin to kill him, an act that gives Beatty a new lease on life. Invigorated, he sets about appropriating African-American slang and culture, as well as telling "the truth." As is befitting a film by a wealthy Hollywood liberal nostalgic for the lost Hollywood lefty coalition of the '60s, "the truth" the senator sets about telling is basically a crowd-pleasing, populist brand of old-school liberalism, which Beatty's newly invigorated senator spouts in the form of cringe-inducingly awful "raps" that sound like foul-mouthed Mother Jones editorials. Hit-or-miss and lacking comic momentum, Bulworth is an odd, unsuccessful pairing of lowbrow fish-out-of-water comedy and earnest leftist rhetoric. It's funny in spots, but as a whole it's a mess, a sprawling, barely coherent comedy filled with easy stereotypes, unnecessary characters, and subplots that go nowhere. Of course, Bulworth's messiness would be forgivable if the film were either as subversive or as funny as it obviously thinks it is. Moreover, Beatty's crazy-white-boy-in-the-'hood shtick grows old very, very quickly. Bulworth is pretty shallow, and the answers it provides for society's social ills—campaign-finance reform, affirmative action, and an abandonment of two-party politics—aren't exactly revolutionary. Beyond its B-boy stance, Bulworth is something of a vanity film, an opportunity for Beatty to assert his position as a maverick, countercultural outlaw while still getting cheap laughs from familiar targets.