Do you think we could stop with the movies depicting/describing/detailing events around and during the assassination of JFK? There are only so many ways and so many points of view to tell the tale. Unless you have something unique to give to the situation, like Stephen King’s 11/22/1963 novel, enough already. In the past decade I’ve seen JFK assassinated 10 times, all with different camera angles, and different points of view. It’s very tiring and Hollywood has managed to make a national tragedy boring. You are probably asking, “Zach, your review says this is supposed to be on the film LBJ.” It is, trust me. The film depicts the events a little bit before, during, and after the JFK assassination about the president that followed him, what he did both before, during and after. But with All The Way, which really just depicts the events after the JFK assassination, which has the last 25 minutes of this film covered, did we really need another movie on LBJ?
No we didn’t. I don’t know where we are getting these scripts from. It’s like we are getting them from college students. The professor says, “write a movie during or around a significant period of time and make it as factual as possible.” The students go, “well, 9/11 is too soon ((even though it also has been done to death already and I doubt we’ve seen the last of those films)), so what can I do, that requires minimal effort, where I don’t have to research all that much into what happened? Oh I know! I’ll do a story surrounding JFK’s assassination, but in the point of view of LBJ, or RFK, or Natalie Portman.”
I can’t tell you how sick of these movies I am. And this movie I know is about much more than that, it’s about LBJ’s point of view, and mostly on his career before and after, even though it takes almost the whole movie flashes back to that fateful day in Dallas to see his reaction when JFK gets terrible green screen background and CGI’d shot in the head treatment. I’m sad to say I’ve become numb to seeing a president being shot in the head. It’s terrible.
The movie is directed by Rob Reiner, who hasn’t had a good film since the kid movie Flipped, and before that, The American President. He has made some huge clunkers in his career, including North, and while what I described above isn’t so much a clunker as I make it out to be, any director could’ve made this movie. It has none of Reiner’s trademark direction/shots/etc. whatsoever, it is a complete point and shoot affair. I’m guessing since his career is so downhill this was the only thing he was offered.
The only saving grace of this film is none other than Woody Harrelson. And the acting in general. While the make up on Woody looks awful (should’ve hired someone else) he is terrific as LBJ. Even though this movie conflicts with some of LBJ’s character with the movie All The Way with Bryan Cranston, Woody does a remarkable job as the forced President to be, trying to make his own legacy. Jeffrey Donovan and Michael Sahl-David do really good work here too as JFK and RFK, and Jennifer Jason Leigh does good with the few scenes she has as Lady Bird. But Richard Jenkins is pretty powerful here too, playing a racist senator at odds with what LBJ is doing.
But yeah, if you’ve seen the movie All the Way with Bryan Cranston, there really is nothing new here, and watch that one, it is a better film. The only reason why you should watch this at all is if you like Woody Harrelson and are a Woody Harrelson performance completest. And I guess maybe if in some insane world you are a Rob Reiner completest as well. This movie is hopefully a nail in the coffin for movies surrounding the JFK assassination, but as with most things, I’m probably wrong.