I've seen a lot of Oliver Stone films and I'm not sure I can agree with the sentiment on the movie slip cover of W. which reads "the best film ever." I'm not sure this is the best Oliver Stone film, let alone ever. I liked it. I was intrigued. Ebert points out that Stone's other films (JFK, Nixon) contain revisionist history and in this one Stone chooses to stay within the known and accepted in crafting this film. Considering the proximity to Bush's actual time in the White House, I think that was wise.
I felt more tolerance for Josh Brolin as George W. Bush than I did for the real man. Something about our former president scares the bejeezus out of me and I'm still just a bit stunned as to how he could be elected once and then re-elected four years later. Watching the character of Condoleeza Rice nearly pushed me over the edge, but Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney worked for me. There were moments when I expected someone to pop out and shout "Live from Saturday Night" because it felt spoofish -- perhaps too recent in history and the news media for me or something.
I found the character of Laura Bush to be intriguing. I wanted to know HER thoughts and motivations and what was really going on in that head of hers. The film portrayed her in a different light than I'd seen her and yet, I'll admit, I've not paid all that much attention to the real woman when there was so much going on with her husband. I real life she'd always seemed sort of empty and puppet like and in the film she seemed like a person with thoughts and everything...
Ellen Burstyn's portrayal of Barbara Bush was a surprise and I guess I really don't know much about her either. I felt Stone chose to paint George H.W. Bush in a sympathetic light and he seemed to emphasize what the Bush family might have felt at watching their son turn the family name into the next four letter word.
If you are a fan of George W. Bush, you probably won't enjoy this movie. Though I have to admit, I'm not a fan and I didn't enjoy the film much either. Some might enjoy seeing someone's weakness, but for me it was a reminder of eight bitter years and how this affected and affects us all.