HBO Documentary "41" Offers No Insight Into the Elder Bush Review

“I don’t like him and I think he cost me the election. Other than that I have nothing to say.” - George H.W. Bush on Ross Perot

The experience is not unlike going home and a grandparent opening up the photo album.  “Oh no…”  Except that where you or I might have an album or two covering our entire lives Poppy Bush has reams and reams of pictures and video footage of his time in Kennebunkport, Andover, and Yale.  It makes the first twenty minutes excruciatingly funny.

The most interesting thing about this man is his long career, spanning numerous jobs leading all the way to the Presidency. It is also the most glossed-over part of the documentary.  

We know he likes dogs and doesn’t like cats.  We got about five minutes on that. What he thinks about the current state of the Middle East, whether he regrets not finishing the job in Iraq, what he thinks of the state of the Republican party, these all remain mysteries. What did he do as the head of the CIA?  Response: “Shhh…”  Okay, haha, decent joke. What did you do, what were the challenges, what world did you see during the height of the Cold War that regular people didn’t see?  Nothing.

There were moments.  One was where he defended his actions when the Berlin Wall came down.  Many pushed for him to go over there and share the moment or talk it up on this side of the Atlantic, but he stayed quiet and out of the way.  Why?  Because he knew Gorbachev didn’t need the American President crowing over the USSR and the Soviet military.  Nice little piece of history there.  That’s what the whole thing should have been like.  George H. W. Bush lived during the most incredible period of time in our history from 1924 to today.  (Incidentally, he is currently in the hospital with bronchitis but is, as far as one can say, not critically ill.)

When you see that HBO made the “documentary,” there’s an expectation.  HBO has a reputation for being edgy, giving more credit to its audience’s intelligence, and high level production values.  Well, we got one of those.  The production values are great.  They’ve got a lot of B-roll to cut into historical moments to create some context.  But they do little with that context. 

DVD Bonus Features

No special features.

"41" is on sale December 11, 2012 and is not rated. Documentary. Directed by Jeffrey Roth. Written by Jeffrey Roth, Stephen Beck. Starring George H W Bush.

Jason Ratigan • Staff Writer

A lawyer-turned-something-else with a strong appreciation for film and television.  He knows he can't read every great book ever written, but seeing every good movie ever made is absolutely doable.  Check out his other stuff on Wordpress.


New Reviews