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Movie Review


Reviewed by: Steven G. Hanson

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
107 min.
Year of Release:

Starring: Warren Beatty, Halle Berry, Oliver Platt, Don Cheadle, Paul Sorvino, Jack Warden / Director: Warren Beatty / Released by: 20th Century Fox

“Bulworth” is a serious movie with some truth included in the offbeat plot. However, to get to the meat of the movie you have to watch it, an experience much like diving for coins in a cess pool. After I left I felt slimed. However, many people who viewed it when I did cheered and applauded at the end.

J. Billington Bullworth is a Senator from California running for re-election. Near the end of the campaign he goes for days without sleep and food ending up mentally so deranged that he gets a large insurance company to issue a policy to him for $10 million dollars for bottling up a bill in his senate committee that the insurance company doesn’t want passed. Next he sets up a hit on himself as a way of committing suicide.

Now, he feels free to express himself honestly for the first time and does so at several churches, one black, one white, at a meeting of rich Hollywood jews, on national TV and generally alienates everyone, except Halie Berry, who ends up as a sidekick in the movie.

This is really Warren Beatty’s political statement, and he uses “Bullworth” to make his points, such as:

  • Socialism is not a dirty word
  • the United States Constitution is outdated and ineffective
  • Hollywood makes a lot of money but a very poor product
  • blacks are only important in the American political process to the extent that racism can be used as a political tool
  • the rich get richer and the poor get poorer
  • there are no black leaders today because middle class jobs have been shipped off shore to 3rd world countries
  • the only opportunity young black men in our culture have is to be a business man—and sell drugs on the street
  • the media only cares about ratings, not truth.

Beatty is socialist and uses this movie, which he co-produced, directed as well as starred in, to further his socialist agenda begun in his previous movie, “Reds”.

I would like to ask Mr. Beatty a question. Is his portrayal of blacks in this movie what he really believes black people to be like? And I have a question for blacks. Do they appreciate how demeaning, how sick and nasty Hollywood portrays them in movies like this? Every song that I remember from the movie was a rap song about f-ing, b-chs drugs etc. If I was black, I would be ashamed of this type of presentation of my culture.

So, what truth did Mr. Beatty present in this movie? Our culture and country are sick beyond belief. The churches are apostate, minorities downtrodden and the middle class being wiped out. But what is the answer?

According to Beatty, socialism.

My humble opinion is Jesus Christ and a return to the values that founded this country are the answer, including the Constitution, second only to the Bible as the greatest document ever written.

At the end of the movie, an old grizzled black man speaks directly to the audience and says, “You got to be a spirit, not a ghost.” What is Beatty trying to say here? I really don’t know but I will paraphrase what he should have meant, “You’ve got to know the Holy Spirit, not the ghosts of humanistic government.”

This movie contains an incredible amount of profanity, no nudity, some mild violence and is really only for adults.

Viewer Comments
I was not happy with this movie. The plot was somewhat interesting, however the profanity was disgusting. I did not like the way in which the movie showed the small black child using foul language and selling drugs. Shame on the movie maker. If you want to change our society, change the movies. The industry should be able to write a story and sent a message without the foul language and exploitation of children and the black race. PLEASE!! May I have my money back? If a consumer buys any other product and it is not what was expected a return is guaranteed.
—Ms. Carroll Spicer
Well, I LOVED “Bulworth.” I was giddy throughout the movie—I don’t recall having ever been so captivated by what I was seeing on the screen. To answer Harriet Jackson: Halle Berry was portrayed as an educated, strong woman raised by political activists of the 1960’s, and I didn’t find her character offensive at all. The issue of black leadership is dealt with DIRECTLY in this movie, in the form of a question from Beatty and a reply from Berry… If you were to disregard the comment near the end of the movie (about eliminating all races by everyone making love with each other), I think the movie would not be incompatible with Christian ideals. I’d also like to say the most people’s idea of socialism is totally inaccurate to the tradition of Karl Marx and genuine socialists; I’ve noticed that many Americans even call Canada a socialist country just because of the health care system and wider social safety net. Russia wasn’t socialist either… I am a socialist.
—Shaun Gobits, age 20 (Canada)
My wife and I walked out in the middle of the movie. The language was more than we could stand.
—Gil Mertz
I think that your assesment of Bulworth as a film that is demeaning to Black people, short sighted. I think that you have missed the point of the movie, which was the actions of a small particular group of people not a whole race, White or Black. It was not a generalization about a any one race of people. To generalize the Black people in Bulworth as being a snap shot of Black people is like generalizing Charles Dicken’s characters as being typical of all White people. The movie was more complexed than Black and White. It dealt with the deepest levels of human frailty, failure, and hypocrisy. As a Black person, I think that I would have to say that Bulworth was so funny, because it wasn’t too timid to say what everyone was already thinking, but was too afraid to say outloud. And as far as slanting towards SOCIALSIM… I would paraphrase the character Bultworth in saying that White people in America have a lot more in common with Black people than with rich people, but rich people have pitted White people against Black people in an effort to divert their attention away from the truth. Hey, 15% of the people in this country control more than 85% of the wealth, Bill Gates alone makes more money than the bottom 40%. If you call people who complain about these financial disparities while American public schools fall through the cracks and we can’t find money to educate poor children properly socialist, then call me a SOCIALIST too.
“Bulworth” is utter TRASH. Language is foul and the story content is disgusting. That is the last time I’ll waste my money on a Warren Beatty movie.
—L. Culver, age 60+
I would like to make a comment on “Bulworth”, even though I have chosen not to view it. My comments are based on the advance publicity and television exposure that the movie has already received and the comments from one that I trust who has viewed the movie. There is plenty in “Bulworth” to offend just about everyone. There is profuse profanity and sexual situations. But I want to comment as an African-American Woman. Of course, I can’t speak for all African-American Woman, but I would sure like to speak for one segment. The segment that I rarely see portrayed in the movies… Women of Character. I understand that “Bulworth” is intended as a satire and filled with stereotypes for that reason. The picture painted for me of the character played by Halle Berry, leaves little to be admired. It is a particularly offensive caricature. For decades, African-American women have been portrayed as maids and domestics by Hollywood. I am sure that it doesn’t represent progress that Hollywood now portrays us as “sexually loose and morally compromised.” The movie also implies that there is little leadership and even less morals in the African-American community, at large…(that the smartest black man in the neighborhood is a drug dealer). Sometimes Hollywood is hopeless. In any case, it doesn’t sound like the type of movie that I would find entertaining, so I’m not going to see it, or any others in that genre.
—Harriet Jackson
Bulworth clearly was a personal vision of how Warren Beatty views modern day America, however, I do not think his views are irrefutably socialistic in nature, nor do I think they are incompatible with Christian ideals. The movie is presented with a tone of irony that demonstrated the immorality rampant in our society today. As the protagonist, Bulworth strikingly pointed out that the worship of allmighty dollar has replaced core values and beliefs (for both conservatives and liberals) in the political arena. As Bulworth died (figuratively) and was reborn a truth speaker, he was able to castigate those who were still beholden to the search for money. And the skewering was even-handed with Hollywood bigshots, ghetto thugs, and political hacks all being roasted. The idea that America has become too focused on wealth and power as the measure of success (at the expense of morality) does not strike me as socialistic. In fact, the movie made a call for personal committment and responsibilty as a mechanism for change in society which is ultimately democratic. With the exception of the language and sexual references, I think this is a movie that is ultimately compatible with Christian ideals.
—R. Skeel
While it is true that the movie Bulworth was pushing a specific agenda and that it goes out of its way to be particularly obscene regarding language content (much abuse of the Lord’s name), I think it’s a little too simplistic to refer to it as an attempt to push a socialist agenda. In fact, I didn’t particularly care for the movie and even felt a little ashamed (as a Christian) after watching it, but I think the guest reviewer was way off base with his critique of the movie’s message. It was trying to honestly portray the plight of young black (and white) lower class Americans who don’t realize their opportunities and slip, instead, into the destructive behavior. It was trying to honestly portray the two-faced approach of many (most?) politicians. It was trying to honestly portray the degree to which this country has shown its true sinful nature. This is the same sinful nature we all have… we’re just better at masking it. The comments about the constitution by the guest reviewer show more of the reviewer’s “Constitution” soapbox than the movie’s contents. The movie doesn’t say much of anything about the constitution. So let’s, as the reviewer says, stick to the truth. The movie was raw, funny, sad, and probably just inappropriate for the Christian due to the language and sexual references.
—David, age 25