HOLLYWOOD, CA – Tinseltown just can’t seem to stop remaking the classics and with the upcoming release of “Jeb! The Stuff Happens President” I think it’s a great time to quickly review how we got to the point that, like Spider-Man, the character is being rebooted a third time. The difference, it seems, is that Spider-Man believes with great power comes great responsibility.
Coming off the ratings blockbuster that was Ronald Reagan’s presidency, in which a B movie actor with perfect hair and haphazard ideas wrapped in slick speeches comes to Washington and shakes things up by dealing arms to terrorists and destroying the American middle class people were accepting of presidents with less than ideal qualities or qualifications. After all, that flick proved to be such a hit we were treated to the Vice President, George H. W. Bush, a character spun off into the less successful but memorable farce “Read My Lips (No New Taxes).” Plans for a sequel to that film were scrapped in favor of a fresh script starring a fast talking southern boy, Bill Clinton, with a libido to match his ego in “Demo and the Blue Dress.”
Clinton was a smash hit with female audiences and tabloids alike and Hollywood was torn between spinning off a dull but safe and sober character from the Clinton story, Al Gore, or remaking the first Bush farce with an Inspector Clouseau-esque, over-the-top, zanier character in the lead role. Test audiences preferred Gore in a straight up vote but studio heads in a split decision decided to go against the audiences wishes and green light the surrealist and absurd comedy “Can’t Get Fooled Again.”
“Can’t Get Fooled Again” had a strong first act but by the second and third act audiences, critics and even rival studios were ready to turn off the bungled production. The star, George W. Bush, didn’t seem have rehearsed any of his lines let alone memorize them and the plot was full of holes that left audiences scratching their heads. In one scene there was no intelligence to support attacking Iraq and in the next there it was without any explanation of how it got there. Worse yet, there was the vice presidential character, Cheney. Was he the president? Was he the vice president? His role was not well defined and audiences were confused; in some scenes he was clearly in charge and in others he literally stood in shadows. Movie goer expressed their discontent on Rotten Tomatoes and with picket signs in the streets.
The POTUS franchise needed a palate cleansing at this point so studio execs decided to cast a young, charismatic African-American, Barack Obama, the lead role in “The President vs. Everyone Over Every Little Fucking Thing.” Audiences were eager to see a new take on the character but the other actors did not seem to be very receptive in the scenes they shared with Obama. It was like watching an improv sketch where none of the other actors would “yes, and…” in any of the scenes, in fact, it seemed like they were pro-actively saying “no, but…” Somehow the story forged ahead and a narrative was laid out. There were scenes about helping the poor get health care, an auto bailout, the thrilling action sequence in which Osama Bin Laden is taken down by an elite team of seals but most of the screen time was occupied by the ponderousness of trying to get bills brought up to vote before a congress of petulant children.
However, as Obama’s POTUS film is about to make it’s debut on DVD and BluRay it’s time to cast the next man who would be president and one studio is bullish on former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. The other day the new Bush teased that his presidency may be a subtle nod to the bungling Bushes that preceded him when he responded to questions about the tragic school shooting in Oregon. Jeb stopped, gave a half smirk and uttered these memorable words “Stuff Happens!”
Yes, stuff happens but it happens more often to those who don’t take any responsibility in trying to prevent it. After all with great power comes great responsibility.