You’re Welcome America: A Final Night With George W. Bush
Add You’re Welcome America to the list of theatrical works based on U.S. presidents, said Ben Brantley in The New York Times. But while presidents such as Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon have inspired plays “in the mold of Shakespearean and Greek tragedies,” George W. Bush receives “a comedy of ineptitude.” For 90 minutes, Will Ferrell, commander of the Bush impression since his days on Saturday Night Live, sends up “43” in uproarious fashion. His Dubya is ever cocky and bumbling, prone to malapropisms, trapped in puberty, and full of self-assurance—yet utterly lacking in self-knowledge. In short, he’s “a typical leading man from a Will Ferrell comedy.” Ferrell’s approval rating with the audience is undeniable. Even the real Bush in 2001 wasn’t this “critic-proof.”
“Cluelessness is the satirical hook” that Ferrell uses to reel in the audience, said Peter Marks in The Washington Post. The show begins with Bush being dropped off on Broadway so that he might “celebrate” his “eight years of service to you.” Taking us back to a time when “wings take dream,” Ferrell reflects on Bush’s life from his early days at Yale through his time in the White House. Whether he’s praising Barack Obama (the “Tiger Woods guy”), recounting the time he witnessed a crack unit of CIA-trained spear-carrying monkeys, or giving audience members Bush-style nicknames, the comic makes a “hilarious case for having unfinished funny business” with our former bumbler in chief.
“It’s in the more fanciful satirical detours that Ferrell soars highest,” said David Rooney in Variety. The best of these is an extended narrative about an imagined family excursion into an abandoned mine shaft. Bush père and sons get trapped and have to be rescued by “Scary Lady,” aka Barbara Bush. Though just about everyone ever associated with W. comes in for a ribbing, Ferrell and director Adam McKay ensure that “the show never descends into mean-spirited diatribe.” Fans and foes of Bush alike will appreciate Ferrell’s “refusal to demonize the man” and his ability to find sweetness in a character who’s simply “in way over his head.” For the next six weeks, You’re Welcome America should be the hottest ticket on Broadway.
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