Many a “Saturday Night Live” player has lampooned a U.S. President, but Will Ferrell is the only one to parlay such an impersonation from 30 Rock to Broadway. For those who didn’t see it in the Big Apple during its successful, Tony-nominated run or on HBO, DVD brings “You’re Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush” to your home.
Most of Ferrell’s “SNL” sketches as Bush wore out their welcome quickly — no fault of his, but rather the writers. Here, the actor is the lone scribe, and he relishes the opportunity to exercise his freedom of speech, unbound by censors or FCC restrictions. Thus, as Ferrell delves through the entire life and career of modern history’s most unpopular commander in chief, he also throws in wild bits about, say, Bush’s “AWOL” weekend with one Dave Rothschild. (That’s code for “homosexual tryst.”)
By the hour mark, the 90-minute show starts to lag, although it picks back up at the end when Ferrell — still as Bush — improvs to make up nicknames for various audience members. For example, a Washington Post journalist in attendance is re-christened “Liar.”
Ferrell does a hell of a job in a mostly one-man show, but the transitions between segments are creaky. If you’re a member of the far right, you probably shouldn’t even give it a try. For the rest of us, it’s the ticket. —Rod Lott