When Vice came up as my brother and I were talking about this year’s Oscar race, he dismissed it. “What do I care about Dick Cheney? That was years ago and it’s just gonna be about how he shot that one guy in the face.” I had to laugh, but I told him he really should check it out. I know my brother isn’t the type to care about politics and wouldn’t want to see some dry biopic about an old man who was vice president when he was in high school, but Vice is far from dry.
Directed and written by Adam McKay, Vice carries a similar entertaining yet informative tone as his previously Oscar nominated film, The Big Short. The film is a biopic, in that it details Dick Cheney’s life, leading up to and in Washington D.C. with focus on his pushed boundaries and strong hold as vice president to a green and gullible W. Bush (Sam Rockwell). From the beginning of their marriage, his wife Lynne (Amy Adams) pushes him to succeed, rather than be a lineman in Wyoming with multiple DUIs. Instead, he channels that recklessness into systemically seizing power throughout his career. By the end, after multiple betrayals and heart attacks, he feels like a Darth Vader-esk villain complete with replacement parts, destroying his own daughter’s happiness and ominous music.
Christian Bale has been known for some extreme transformations for his movie roles and Vice is near the top. It’s said that Bale gained forty-five pounds, shaved his head and bleached his eyebrows to pull this look off. In the makeup Bale is nearly invisible and his voice only carries the disguise further. It is uncanny how much he looks like they Cheney I knew on the evening news. I expect this film to win best makeup. It’s a shame we won’t be able to see the well deserved award accepted during the broadcast.
There are so many odd and hilarious moments that happen throughout this film that only Adam McKay could pull off. While the narrator reminds us that we can only speculate how the Cheneys discussed running with Bush, they speculate hilariously letting Lynn and Dick spout some long winded Shakespearean bullshit while laying down sleep. Bale breaking the 4th wall as Cheney is a work of genius. And you won’t believe the grotesque connection between the narrator and Cheney. But my favorite is the fake ending in the middle of the film, that got huge laughs from the audience.
Vice is nominated for eight Academy Awards including makeup, original screenplay film editing and Best Picture. McKay has received his second nomination as director. And Bale received his fourth acting nomination, this time as lead actor. Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell are nominated in the supporting acting categories.
One of the funniest and most brilliant moments of this film happens in the credits, so don’t rush out. McKay realizes some may complain about how this film seems to have a liberal bias and takes a moment to address the three types of people who will be in the theater. It’s a great laugh to end on after so much doom and gloom.
“I can feel your incriminations and your judgment, and I am fine with that. You want to be loved? Go be a movie star.”