With refreshing candour, writer/director Steve Zaillian – the scribe behind Schindler’s List – has likened the critical and commercial failure of his high-profile political drama to being hit by a truck. Given the choice, though, there are many who’d find the truck option preferable to watching this pompous slice of overcooked Southern gumbo. The 1949 film of Robert Penn Warren’s novel of politics and corruption might have won three Oscars, but the only gongs Zaillian’s adaptation of the same material will probably attract are Golden Raspberries.
His biggest crime, however, is to give Sean Penn free rein to turn charismatic demagogue Willie Stark into a gross hick caricature, complete with flailing arms and comedy turkey strut. Penn is mercifully absent from the five overly reverential featurettes and three deleted scenes that round out this disc, with only the potted biog of Stark inspiration Huey Long justifying its inclusion.