Hidden beneath the prosthetics and artificial layers of director Rob Reiner’s “LBJ” is a story that’s incredibly relevant to a modern audience. Sadly, much like the majority of its lead actor’s face, the full potential of the story remains hidden.
The film putts along at a presidential parade’s pace, jumping back and forth from the cataclysmic event that made him President Johnson to his time as a senator, presidential candidate, and then vice president. The film’s central premise, the story of a politician who has a colorful way with words and a sometimes crippling need to be liked by those he governs, feels a little too on the nose at times.
Where the film gets interesting is when it attempts to delve into the art of compromise in politics. However, these moments barely scratch the surface. This superficiality is the film’s fatal flaw. It fails to dig deep enough.
That being said, Woody Harrelson’s performance as Lyndon B. Johnson is riveting. Despite an underdeveloped script, he shines in the title role. The crass, but still likeable, politician is the perfect role for Harrelson. His performance is even more impressive, when you consider most of his face is obscured by a distracting amount of makeup.
With the recent critically acclaimed, HBO mini series, “All The Way,” the film begs the question — why take on this same political figure if you don’t have anything new to say, or at least a new way to say it? Unfortunately, “LBJ,” never answers it.
…just for fun: