Bulworth (1998)



Critic Consensus: Star and director Beatty's ambitious take on race and politics in 20th-century America isn't perfect, but manages to provide more than its share of thought-provoking laughs.

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Warren Beatty directed, co-produced (with Pieter Jan Brugge), co-scripted (with Jeremy Pikser), and stars in this political satire, a comedy drama about a U.S. senator who decides to start speaking the truth. Despondent California senator Jay Bulworth (Beatty), up for re-election, is disillusioned by the usual campaign banalities; his marriage to Constance (Christine Baranski) seems equally hollow. In the midst of a nervous breakdown, Bulworth goes without sleep or food for three days and takes out a ten-million-dollar insurance policy on himself while arranging his own assassination. Drinking during a return to Los Angeles, Bulworth is scheduled to speak at an African-American church in South Central L.A. Once there, he tosses aside his prepared speech, startling both the audience and his campaign manager, Murphy (Oliver Platt), by improvising truthful remarks instead of the familiar rhetoric. These loose-cannon salvos gain the attention of an attractive young woman, Nina (Halle Berry). Bulworth finds an exhilaration with this new freestyle approach, and after shocking a gathering in Beverly Hills with further fulminations, Bulworth invites Nina and her girlfriends into his limo. During a spaced-out sojourn at one of South Central's more frenzied after-hours clubs, Bulworth gains respect for hip-hop culture.Still reeling from insights gained by this nightlife, he arrives the next day for a fundraising function at the Beverly Wilshire, startling everyone with a diatribe delivered in the intonations of a rap artist. His interest in Nina and his new optimistic outlook on life give Bulworth a sense of elation and a will to live. He phones to call off the hit, but the gears have been set in motion. After an assumed hitman turns up during a church appearance, Bulworth flees, and Nina offers him a safe-house hideout at the home of her family, veterans of the civil rights movement. Here Bulworth goes through the final steps in his transformation -- making a Kennedy-styled connection with the disenfranchised as he tunes in to forgotten memories of the '60s. Outfitted in homeboy clothing, the born-again Bulworth heads for a TV station to unleash even more caustic comments on the American political scene. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovi
R (For pervasive strong language and some drug content)
Comedy , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
20th Century Fox

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Warren Beatty
as Sen. Jay Bulworth
Oliver Platt
as Dennis Murphy
Paul Sorvino
as Graham Crockett
Jack Warden
as Eddie Davers
Joshua Malina
as Bill Feldman
Christine Baranski
as Constance Bulworth
Amiri Baraka
as Rastaman
Sean Astin
as Gary
Larry King
as Himself
Nora Dunn
as Missy Berliner
Jackie Gayle
as Macavoy
Vinny Argiro
as Debate Director
Helen Martin
as Nina's Mother
Kirk Baltz
as Debate Producer
Ernie Banks
as Leroy
Adilah Barnes
as Mrs. Brown
Graham Beckel
as Man with Dark Glasses
Brandon N. Bowlin
as Bouncer 2
Mongo Brownlee
as Henchman 3
Thomas Jefferson Byrd
as Uncle Rafeeq
Jann Carl
as Herself
Kerry Cantanese
as Video Reporter 4
Terry Cooley
as Henchman 2
Kevin Cooney
as Reverend Wilberfore
Christopher Curry
as Journalist
Stanley DeSantis
as Manny Liebowitz
Jerry Dunphy
as Himself
Lou Myers
as Uncle Tyrone
Shawna Hagler
as Technical Director
Jonathan Roger Neal
as Little Gangsta
Ron Ostrow
as Staff Member
Norman Parker
as Irwin Tannenbaum
James Pickens Jr.
as Uncle David
Kenneth Randle
as Little Gangsta
Tony Tomas Randle
as Little Gangsta
Arthur Reggie III
as Little Gangsta
Adrian Ricard
as Aunt Alice
Ava Rivera
as Video Reporter 3
Robert Scheer
as Journalist
Sam Shamshak
as Fundraiser Guest
Sarah Silverman
as 2nd American Politics Assistant
Brooke Skulski
as Reporter
Bee-Be Smith
as Aunt Harriet
Roberto Soto
as Reporter
Quinn Sullivan
as Fundraiser Server
Robin Thomas
as Reporter in Hallway
Sheryl Underwood
as Woman at Frankie's
Gary H. Walton
as Bouncer 4
Andrew Warne
as Video Reporter
Lee Weaver
as Man in Church 2
Kenn Whitaker
as Henchman 1
Jermaine Williams
as Paul Robeson
John Witherspoon
as Reverend Morris
Sumiko Telljohn
as Lady at Banquet
William Baldwin
as Constance Bulworth's Lover
Paul Mazursky
as Himself
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Critic Reviews for Bulworth

All Critics (65) | Top Critics (12)

It's a sharp, brave movie, a little ragged around the edges, but that's to its advantage.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

What gives Bulworth its unique character is that all this silliness is periodically punctuated by cogent, carefully thought-out mini-manifestos...

Full Review… | February 13, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

A shrewd political observer for decades, Beatty has fashioned a hilarious morality tale that delivers a surprisingly potent, angry message beneath the laughs.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Bulworth plays like a cry of frustrated comic rage. It's about an archetypal character who increasingly seems to stand for our national mood: the guy who's fed up and isn't going to take it anymore.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Bulworth is an angry movie, but Beatty is savvy enough to recognize that people respond better to comedies than serious "issue films," so he has camouflaged his message beneath the surface of this original, incisive satire.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Top Critic

As writer, director and star, Beatty flails all over the screen, but he's also made the only recent political satire that draws blood.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Bulworth

A decent social/political satire.

Thomas Johnston
Thomas Johnston

Super Reviewer

One of my all time favorite movies ever. Engaging characters, great humor, and poignant political satire (if you listening closely to Warren Beatty's raps).

Jason Robinson
Jason Robinson

Super Reviewer


Simultaneously very silly and poignant. It's like Chris Rock or Robin Williams trying to make a satirical, humorous political film, only it came out much sooner. A great cast and crew, but it seems just a bit too stereotypical for a movie so bent on destroying stereotypes.


Super Reviewer

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