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Bulworth (1998)

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A suicidally disillusioned liberal politician puts a contract out on himself and takes the opportunity to be bluntly honest with his voters by affecting the rhythms and speech of hip-hop music and culture.

Director:

Warren Beatty

Writers:

Warren Beatty (story), Warren Beatty (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Director: John Junkerman
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kimberly Deauna Adams Kimberly Deauna Adams ... Denisha
Vinny Argiro Vinny Argiro ... Debate Director
Sean Astin ... Gary
Kirk Baltz ... Debate Producer
Ernie Lee Banks ... Leroy (as Ernie Banks)
Amiri Baraka Amiri Baraka ... Rastaman
Christine Baranski ... Constance Bulworth
Adilah Barnes ... Mrs. Brown
Warren Beatty ... Jay Bulworth
Graham Beckel ... Man with Dark Glasses
Halle Berry ... Nina
Brandon N. Bowlin Brandon N. Bowlin ... Bouncer #2
Mongo Brownlee Mongo Brownlee ... Henchman #3
Thomas Jefferson Byrd ... Uncle Rafeeq
J. Kenneth Campbell ... Anthony
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Storyline

Senator Jay Bulworth is facing speculation-induced financial ruin, so he puts out a contract on his own life in order to collect a large, new insurance policy for his family. Living each moment on borrowed time, he suddenly begins spouting raw, unfiltered--and sometimes offensive in word but satirical in spirit -- thoughts to shocked audiences and handlers in the speech of hip-hop music and culture. His newfound uninhibitedness and new relationship with Nina carry him on a journey of political and spiritual renewal. Written by Stuart Hoffman

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Brace yourself. This politician is about to tell the truth! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive strong language and some drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 May 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tribulations See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$141,816, 17 May 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$26,525,834, 6 December 1998
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was made and released during the Democrat Presidency of Democrat President Bill Clinton (1993-2001). Warren Beatty's Senator Jay Billington Bulworth character is a progressive liberal Democrat. See more »

Goofs

At 19:50 Super Fly and Blacula can be seen playing in a theater, but they were made in 1972 and this is a 1998 film. It is set to 1998 because the cordless phones being used in the film only came out in 1994. See more »

Quotes

Reporter: Senator, do you plan to make rap a regular part of your campaign?
Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth: A part of my campaign? Now that just sounds insane!
See more »

Crazy Credits

For the song "Bulworth Breakdown", the title character Jay Bulworth is credited as a writer and performer. See more »

Connections

References Bob Roberts (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Firm Biz
Written by Leshan Lewis (as L. Lewis), Nas (as N. Jones), Az (as A. Cruz),
Foxy Brown (as I. Marchand), Allen McGrier (as A. McGrier) & Teena Marie (as T. Brockert)
Performed by Nas, Foxy Brown and Az (as AZ) (featuring Dawn Robinson)
Contains an interpolation of "Square Biz" Written by Allen McGrier (as A. McGrier),
Teena Marie (as T. Brockert)
Courtesy of Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Contemporary classic!
10 August 2005 | by Derek237See all my reviews

Bulworth was released quite a few years ago, but it is still (if not more) relevant today. It merges two "cultures," one being the rich white class culture, and the other being the urban lower class culture, and ends up with many universal ideals. The story's hero is Jay Billington Bulworth, portrayed brilliantly by Warren Beatty. I think some people have a problem with the fact that he is...well, more or less insane, but that is possibly the most important thing about the character. You could call him insane, but if you look at it more romantically, perhaps he is "posessed" by the "spirit" of social justice, a mere vessel for the truths that need to be told. He is a character unaware of the significance in what he is saying. To him, if he's not completely insane, he's simply a man who broke down and decided to tell it like it is (ala Peter Finch in Network, but with rapping and rhyming). There's something actually kind of mystical about all this.

Since it would be way too preachy if that's all there was to the story, there's some other aspects that make for an entertaining viewing. Bulworth, in his depression and anxiety, hired a hit-man to "off" him so his family could collect the life insurance. Once his speeches and raps become a success, this is obviously a big problem since he wants to live again ("You should never make life and death situations when feeling suicidal"). There is a love interest with a girl named Nina, played by the lovely Halle Berry. You don't know if you can trust her, and her intentions are unclear.

There is also a fine supporting role by Don Cheadle, who plays a "business man" who uses young children to sell drugs. His character does bring up some valid points, and we're forced to really put ourselves in his shoes. He's doing what he feels is right, but ultimately, the ends don't justify his means.

With a movie that has so much going on, it would probably be difficult for the filmmakers to figure out a way to wrap everything up, right? Unfortunately, yes. Bulworth ends pretty abruptly and leaves with the film's message being half-assedly shouted at the screen. The last act is a huge flaw in an otherwise perfect movie.

Bulworth is a hilarious comedy and it heralds something truly special and unique. It is not a film to be taken for granted or forgotten. It's a quintessential example of a 'contemporary classic' for our generation. I have no doubt that over the next decade or so, people will want to revisit it and examine the politics and the cultures; it should be studied in classrooms, it should be valued. I loved Bulworth!

My rating: 9/10


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