Headline: Beatty Drops The Big One!

This picture is guaranteed to piss off more people than Wag The Dog. It's just as scathing in its indictment of contemporary politics, and more people will see it since much of the humor is at a far lower level. The sight of Warren Beatty in homeboy drag, prancing around doing improvised "white rap", is just too much to resist.

Far from the wry, distanced satire of Wag The Dog and the jokey pragmatism of Primary Colors, Bulworth is a deeply personal socialist manifesto. Beatty's Senator Bulworth is a man at the end of his rope. He's played the political game to the point where he's ethically bankrupt, and realizing this he decides to have himself killed for a big insurance payoff for his daughter. He then proceeds to keep his scheduled speaking engagements, which he uses to outrage everyone by telling the truth instead of mouthing the usual platitudes. There are a lot of big laughs generated in this sequence, but it's edgy laughter. You know this is coming from a man who has nothing left to lose.

When Bulworth decides he has something to live for after all, it's Beatty's way of saying "it's not too late to turn this ship around." The picture loses some of its steam, turning from desparate to hopeful, and this is where Beatty really pounds home his message. He stays well within the story, however, so it never deteriorates into preachiness.

In the opening moments of the movie, you see what are no doubt authentic photographs of Warren Beatty with some of the great liberal leaders of our time, hanging on Senator Bulworth's office walls. Beatty's no neo-liberal, and Bulworth is as strong a statement of his beliefs as he could possibly make, in the context of a popular entertainment. The miracle of the movie is that it manages to be very entertaining despite the strength of its message.