'Vice' stars an almost unrecognizable Christian Bale

The film’s tone is somewhere between a 'Saturday Night Live' sketch and a Christopher Guest mockumentary, with perhaps a little 'Macbeth' thrown in for garnish. This makes it sound like more fun than it is, though.

Matt Kennedy/Annapurna Pictures/AP
Christian Bale (l.) and Sam Rockwell star in 'Vice.'

While watching “Vice,” Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic starring an almost unrecognizable Christian Bale sporting what looks like 40 extra pounds, I kept consoling myself that at least it wasn’t directed by Oliver Stone. It’s not ham-fisted and laced with conspiracy mongering. But McKay, whose last film was the irreverent and overrated Wall Street romp “The Big Short,” isn’t a huge improvement. The film’s tone is somewhere between a “Saturday Night Live” sketch and a Christopher Guest mockumentary, with perhaps a little “Macbeth” thrown in for garnish. This makes it sound like more fun than it is, though. (Along for the ride, in various modes of mimicry, are Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld, and Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush.) 

It’s a fair question as to whether a character as nefarious, in the filmmakers’ eyes, as Cheney should be given the jokey treatment. In theory, there’s no reason why this approach shouldn’t work – if the jokes were better and the black comedy was blacker. But McKay isn’t really interested in Cheney as anything but a target. When, at the end, we hear Cheney intone “I was the bad guy so you didn’t have to be,” the self-serving gravity of that pronouncement rings hollow because the movie is hollow, too. Grade: C+ (Rated R for language and some violent images.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to 'Vice' stars an almost unrecognizable Christian Bale
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today