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Vice (2018)

Like an idiot, I expected Vice to be a Dick Cheney biopic. Writer/director Adam McKay follows up his powerful and informative housing-crash drama The Big Short with a cartoon, a red-meat polemic aimed strictly at progressives whose political memory drops out between late 2008 and early 2016. Speaking of Barack Obama, the best way to describe this film's disappointing lopsidedness is to imagine a right-leaning McKay crafting a seering POTUS 44 biopic: We open on an aimless black kid snorting cocaine in the 1970s. Later, he ascendeds to the presidency on a wave of identity politics and aspirational charm. He leaves office having overseen unprecedented journalist prosecutions and deportations, and an expansion of his predecessor’s war campaigns into so many countries that we nearly ran out of bombs. All true. But weaving a context-free narrative from speculation and bullet points doesn’t make you a historian. It makes you Dinesh D’Souza.

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