Warren Beatty rapping. Warren Beatty rapping - in full saggy rapper uniform (complete with wobbly beanie hat). Warren Beatty in an otherwise sober TV interview, rapping his responses directly into camera. Warren Beatty hangin' with the homies down in South Central, measuring out the word "motherfucker" like a naughty schoolboy. Warren Beatty is 61. Are we disturbed yet?
Bulworth works well as acerbic satire on the frisky old US political climate: it's the Private Eye to Primary Colors' Rory Bremner. The performances are fine (Halle Berry as furtive but oddly articulate love interest; Oliver Platt as chief nanny/advisor), and the implication - that Bulworth, the double-speaking civil serpent, has shed his skin to reveal and revel in his honest-to-badness inner truth - is enticing.
The conviction creaks as the archness of Beatty's liberal subtext finally seeps through: if only one rich, white middle-class figure of authority went culture-slumming, then surely the disaffected shalt be liberated. From here on in, the social insight is deadened by a bad buddy-movie ethic, as Bulworth high-fives his way through the 'hood. At first he's hated, then, suddenly, Don Cheadle's gang-lord turns all broad-minded at the irresistible force of the dad-rap rhetoric.
But get over the fumbled racial issues and Beatty's relentless jive-talkin', and Bulworth clicks as an audacious rant on the increasingly transparent nature of the grinning, spinning palm-squeezers in our midst.
At worst, an embarrassing ego-trip for Beatty. At best, a vision of a sincere fantasy world in which Clinton's sheepish Lewinsky admissions are re-written by Howard Stern ("Yeah. What the hell. We had oral sex. But - trust me - she didn't swallow.")