Nobody Reads Reviews
This film is an adaption of a 2014 play that won Bryan Cranston a Tony. It is more than apparent that he is comfortable in the shoes of the 36th President. Taking you from Johnson’s swearing in as the replacement for the murdered JFK to his campaign victory in the next election the Tony winning writer Robert Schenkken and Director Jay Roach make history entertaining. HBO is the perfect place to depict this vulgar, angry man as he tries to make a name for himself besides “The accidental president” all while passing key civil rights reforms. It doesn’t have much in the way of suspense, but is more driven by the course of events that changed both Johnson and America
The characters surrounding him also keep the story interesting, especially in the first half. From His lovely wife and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr to J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Russell Jr, everyone working with or against the president on so many levels. You feel the chaos of trying to appease different groups and letting down people who think you should be there for them. LBJ is insecure, MLK is determined to never give up and Lady Bird is at her husband’s side through it all. The script is smart and pulls you in, having you rooting for the very relatable president, regardless how simple the character is by the end.
While the story is a little more than an hour long, it tends to feel so full its congested. The end is also a bit slow with his accidental term ending and moving on to his chance at actually being elected. But this is a slice of history that is true and documented, which makes it bearable. How will he pull it all together after changing so much? How will he handle these glossed over issues that bear down on his reelection prospects? Maybe historical exploration is not your bag and you need more than a wordy narrative to spend so much time on a TV-film. It’s an adaption of real life events via a stage play that blows past “Free State of Jones” and makes me want to see “Selma” next. For that, I give it a 4/5