Storming into theaters this winter, the political comedy “Vice,” directed and written by Adam McKay, tells the story of Dick Cheney’s life in politics. The film makes a valiant effort to comment on the United States’ tricky past and to impact the current condition of our nation.
This movie begs for laughter in each scene as it explores the mysterious story of Cheney’s rise to power in the White House and the influence he and his family had on the Bush administration.
On one hand, McKay’s sense of directing shone through in strong performances by his immensely talented cast for the film, which stars Christian Bale as Dick Cheney with co-stars Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell. Bale completely transformed into Cheney, and his efforts paid off as he took home the sole Golden Globe of the six awards for which “Vice” was nominated. Adams displays strong emotions as Lynne Cheney, and Rockwell delivers a complete George W. Bush with flawless mannerisms and a Texan accent.
The entire makeup and hair department also gives an Oscar-worthy performance that helps strengthen the appearance of the actors and convince the audience of the story on the screen. This part of a film crew often goes overlooked, but when dealing with a film that covers decades of history, it is crucial to having a successful film. Together, the actors and the makeup and hair department make “Vice” one of this year’s more notable films.
However, McKay makes it hard to take this movie seriously at times. In general, he did a good job at creating the comedic moments we are used to seeing from him in movies like “Anchorman” and “The Other Guys,” but there are also times in “Vice” where an intended joke doesn’t land just right due to the serious subject matter or the poor timing of the joke.
By focusing on Bush’s response to the 9/11 attacks, McKay chooses a very controversial subject to focus on in “Vice,” and the result is a very one-dimensional movie throughout. It hardly ever has anything good to say about its protagonist. Whether there actually is anything good to say or not, the character’s lack of complexity makes for a flick that seems like a one-sided liberal advertisement.
McKay misses a big opportunity to present the audience with the choice of deciding for themselves whether Cheney’s actions in the White House were moral or not. The script portrays Cheney as a heartless, power-hungry bulldozer, President Bush is written to have the IQ of a toddler who is easily manipulated by Cheney.
Whether or not you support the decisions made during Bush’s presidency, it is hard to stay entertained while watching predictable characters.
Overall, McKay’s “Vice” is worth seeing for those who love strong acting, moments of laughter and period dramas. This movie, though one-dimensional, leaves you with many questions about America’s controversial history, motivating its viewers to look further into the matters concerning Cheney’s decisions with the government.