2018’s biopic of Dick Cheney, Vice, is an interesting movie. I’m not sure if it’s a good movie, although it undeniably has some incredible performances from the actors and possibly the most talented hair and make up team in the world. You can still recognize Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell and Steve Carell, but they do look alarmingly like the real-life people they are playing and this is all the more impressive given that the timeline of the movie covers a period of slightly over 40 years so we see them playing the same characters at different points in their lives.
Vice is hardly a flattering portrayal of Cheney and the Bush administration but it really isn’t covering any new ground especially. What is more interesting is the way in which the story dispenses with a lot of narrative conventions and frequently breaks the fourth wall, but writer/director Adam McKay has already used this bag of tricks in The Big Short and what was innovative in that movie, is less so in Vice on the basis that we’ve seen it before.
Ultimately I think Vice succeeds more than it fails, but it is very much a mixed bag. There is a very funny mid-credit scene in which the movie accuses itself and rebuts accusations of liberal bias.
Score for Christmasishness
There is only one scene that really qualifies this as a Christmas(ish) movie, which occurs about 40 minutes in and lasts for around 3 minutes. But it is a Christmas party in the White House and it does serve quite a significant narrative function. And it does look very Christmassy. Also, shortly before that, we see very brief footage of Mr T on TV with a Christmas tree in the background. Mr T’s only function is to let us know that it is the 1980s at that point in the movie, which you kind of already know because it’s explicitly mentioned elsewhere. But it’s in the mix so it counts.