Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal: The Movie full movie review - a YUGE success, except in those few moments it isn't
In this spectacular and frighteningly spot-on satire of Donald J Trump (though the fact that a lot of it is so close to his worldview is part of the point - that he COULD have
made something this sloppy and tacky and all about himself), we see the man, the myth, the legend in the 1986 glory days of when he turns 40 and he is telling his life story while in the framing device of making a deal for the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City from Merv Griffin (Johnny Depp is Trump, Patton Oswalt as Merv Griffin, easily two of the funniest casting choices this year that WORK damn it all).
It's important to remember this is a "Movie of the Week" from the website Funny or Die, and the context is all about timeliness. This wouldn't of worked three or even four years ago, when "Drumpf", as he's now delightfully called on Twitter (at least by myself thanks to John Oliver), was first running for president. But now it's 2016 and this has been one of those years that you simply can't write about in fictional terms - a grade A narcissist (and whatever you think about the man, he IS that) who knows one thing: Trump is amazing, the best, YUGE, and he will do great for his country as he did great for people back in his years as a real estate mogul. Of course it's all an illusion, and a kind of pact perhaps with a devil, and there's even a scene here where Trump, talking to himself in the mirror in the bathroom after being unable to take a s***, sees briefly a figure of a skeleton, this after a homeless man intoned to him 'You will not get the Taj Mahal.' What could these symbols mean? Eh, it's nothing, of course, Trump says.
The entire conceit of the project is what counts here, of a self-financed passion project dug up from obscurity from the 1980's (the kind of thing that might show up on the series 'Best of the Worst') and it's all about making the same joke but in different variations, like a jazz musician playing 'My Favorite Things' for half an hour: you know that Trump will make it all about himself - "written/music by/starring/produced/co-produced/lyrics/directed by Trump" - so why not use that to leap off into his various sleazy and skeezy business practices? Or that he has an Immigrant wife (as he does now)? Or how he sued the NFL and won, but got a $1 settlement offer (that I didn't know about but hey I believe it)? And it's also all resting on Johnny Depp's shoulders as a performer, and what he does here is a goof, a long SNL skit, but what a skit!
Yes, it's clear that he's taking on a lot of make-up once again and putting on a New York Trump-y drawl, but it works. He carries best I think Trump's instability and lack of self-consciousness (except when that comes to his suit or if he's talking to a minority child in his propaganda, which is hilarious in that he changes up the kid a few times, with a black kid given the shortest amount on screen), and the narration gives a lot of jokes at the image of Trump as a kind of public persona who is basically ripe for mockery, not to mention his interactions with others (Jason Mantzoukas as a bum, Paul Scheer as Roy Cohn, Alfred Molina as his "Jewish Lawyer", no, really, he's referred to as that on screen, and he has to demonstrate how he eats the c***s off of the plaintiffs Trump's against).
Does every little attempt at humor work? Maybe not. But then this is the kind of satire that aims high and low - there's a poop joke, or rather about how Trump *can't* poop - but more often than not the lines connect and it's consistently funny and at least amusing. The ending is slightly problematic in that it doesn't keep things into its 1980's aesthetic (spoiler, Christopher Lloyd pops up from 2016 with the presidential news). I think that it is the one major fault is that it doesn't keep its references to the 80's solely and goes into present day context so strongly (hell, even Alf shows up, performed by the original actor, and it's great) when we already know watching it what the context is all about: meet the new Donald, same as the old Donald, only without the actual coiffed 'Helmet hair', only now (to at least me and I'm sure others) the visage of a demagogue.
But as far as acidic satires of demagogues with plenty of 'cards' of Deal wisdom go, this takes the cake. And when it comes to satirical targets, the only downside is that he's almost TOO good for right now, like it may take a couple decades until the next big one can come around... like The Producers. 7.5/10