Could the 2012 presidential campaign be more ripe for Oscar gold?
We’re down unofficially at least to two candidates for this year’s Republican presidential nomination, and each is a compelling figure, a larger-than-life character whose story begs – hell, practically demands – for Hollywood treatment. While a buddy comedy (Newt & Mitt, or G ‘n’ R) would seem to be the most obvious vehicle for these two, I depart from my editors and offer a subtler, more arthouse-y approach to the candidates. No biopics here: Each movie presents an aspect of the candidate to which audiences could(somewhat) reasonably relate. The final scene of each, of course, shows one of our heroes entering the Oval Office, settling down for the first time as your No. 45.
In the Mitt Romney movie, we’re presented with a Gothic horror story in which Mitt is actually a split personality portrayed by two different actors. It’s a coming-of-age story – a bildungsroman, if you will—in which our hero is tempted by his dark side before discovering his true identity. It’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, except that in Mitt’s case, Mr. Hyde has more perfect hair.
First off, I hire a nice wooden rocking chair to play “Jekyll” Mitt. This is homespun, “Sure-I-made-$21 million-last-year-but-I’m-still-just-like-you!” Romney, the guy who tied his dog to the top of the car like Joe Six-pack and Edward Fortyhands, aka you and me. Sure, the whole “Mitt is wooden” thing is overplayed, but that means that it’s no longer played, which is really all you’d ask or expect a rocking chair to do.
“Hyde” Mitt is played by a Herman Miller Aeron chair. It’s cool and sleek, just like Mitt’s debate hair, with enough mesh to provide the most amount of style with the least amount of substance. It’s also an $800 chair, generally available to none but the most chair-happy spenders among us. This Mitt constantly tries and consistently fails to relate to Six-pack and Fortyhands. He’s got all
sorts of knobs and levers that let him contort into any imaginable position; there’s no zero, no firmly grounded center. If you’ve got no backbone, you can use his. And correlatively, he can dial down his spinal tension and elegantly lean on you when he doesn’t know what he thinks you want.
Ultimately, the two Mitts clash in an epic battle for soul-selling supremacy. They trade insults, throw jabs and hooks. Rocking-chair Mitt develops cracks he can’t afford to repair under Aeron Mitt’s health-care policies; Aeron Mitt can’t find the appropriate mechanical placement for his seat. Finally, Aeron manages to coat his enemy with chair grease and burn him to the ground, a stunning victory for modern design and a testament to the strength of a lack of conviction.
Befitting its subject, the Newt Gingrich movie is much more of a romp, with a lot more sex and a lot less Mormonism. It’s sort of a frat-house farce in which Newt is the house mom who’s always shooing scantily-clad chicks out of the house and scolding “her” boys for vomiting in the urinals, occasionally while vomiting into one himself. But at the end of the movie, Newt realizes he’s more SigEp than schoolmarm and leads the entire house in a naked raid on the university president’s house. It’s more fun to be chastised, our hero learns, than to do the chastising yourself.
House-mom Newt is played by a bunch of radishes. Red-faced and slightly spicy, you know he’s good for you but you’re also aware of his more complex, sinister side. Ancient Roman philosopher Pliny called the radish “a vulgar article of the diet” that has a “remarkable power of causing flatulence and eructation,” and some people just flat-out can’t stand them. Just like Newt. I cast radishes as Newt because of their more dualistic qualities. They’re polarizing vegetables. Take, for example, the radish’s reputation for curing flatulence (when combined with salt and pepper). And think about it: when Newt gets his hair right – that is, with just enough pepper to temper all that salt – he’s definitely a good prick with which to pop pontificating gasbags. Provided—and here’s why we gave the role to the radishes—he’s not acting the pontificating gasbag himself.
They might not win the Oval Office, but maybe we can get them an Oscar instead.