I loved The Big Short, Adam McKay’s 2015 film about the 2006-2010 financial crisis because of its strategies for explaining complex financial information. The use of various narrators to explain these complex concepts worked really well as did the breaking of the fourth wall, the meta-narration, and the self-consciousness with which all of these tools were used. Vice, McKay’s latest film, uses some of these same techniques to tell the story of Dick Cheney’s life. These techniques work really well when the film explains political and legal concepts such as the unitary executive theory. They work less well when the narration is used in place of showing events in Cheney’s life. In those situations, the tools feel like lazy storytelling. There is a lot to like in this movie. I laughed out loud a lot. But there are some bits, like the use of a narrator (who eventually plays a critical role in Cheney’s life), that work less well. Christian Bale, Sam Rockwell, and Steve Carell are all outstanding in their roles as Cheney, George W. Bush, and Donald Rumsfeld, respectively. Despite my reservations, I would definitely recommend seeing this movie.
I am currently Professor of Digital Media at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. I am also the current Coordinator of General Education at the University. I am interested in game studies, digital literacies, open pedagogies, and generally how technology impacts our culture.