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Marty Callner
Will Ferrell
Writing Credits:
Will Ferrell

Ask not what your country can do for you but what have I done to your country?

In his first-ever HBO special, superstar comedian/actor Will Ferrell takes viewers on a sentimental journey through the life, legend, and legacy of the 43rd U.S President, portraying George W. Bush in this live performance from Broadway’s Cort Theater.

Rated NR

Widescreen 1.78:1/16X9
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $19.97
Release Date: 11/3/09

• “Road to Broadway” Featurette
• “Bush on Bush Interview” Featurette
• “It’s Time Has Come of Being a Decider, America: True or False Game”
• Digital Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Will Ferrell: You're Welcome America - A Final Night With George W. Bush (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 30, 2009)

Ever since its start, Saturday Night Live boasted memorable impressions of presidents. Chevy Chase launched that trend with his take on Gerald Ford, and others like Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman have followed suit with their own impressive impersonations.

With his loose take on George W. Bush, Will Ferrell deserves consideration as one of the best SNL presidential performers. With Bush out of the White House and Ferrell long gone from SNL, we get one last (?) look at this impersonation via a live stage production called You’re Welcome, America.

After a showy arrival via helicopter, “Bush” launches into a look back at his life and career. This highlights a few areas such as the 2000 election, his Texas ranch, 9/11, the Iraq war, his Cabinet, and other lowlights.

Given that we got used to seeing Ferrell’s Bush via short SNL sketches, it may seem like a tall order to stretch the character’s run to a 90-minute stage program. To my surprise, the length of the show isn’t a negative factor. I feared that Ferrell’s cocky frat boy take on Bush would grate after a while, but that doesn’t become the case.

Instead, America lives or dies with the quality of its material. Normally I prefer subtle humor, but that’s not exactly Ferrell’s forte, and America works best when it goes for broader gags. For instance, a segment with a seductive Condi Rice (Pia Glenn) gets pretty wild but it’s quite amusing. I also like the crazy tale of how Bush and his family got trapped in a mine at his ranch; it’s a skewed take on the clan’s dynamics and it scores laughs.

America takes a while to get going, though. The first act needs time to get itself established, so it proves to be the least effective. Matters improve as it progresses, though. Once we get to “Rancher Bush” and that story about the mine, the show finds its rhythm, and it doesn’t falter too much after that.

Don’t expect Ferrell to find new nuances to the character, though. Actually, he spends less time with Bush’s malapropisms than expected, but otherwise he sticks with the concept of Bush as a fairly goofy and dim-witted but self-confident leader. I suspect he chose to dial down some of the performance excesses to make the character tolerable for 90 minutes. A broader version would grow wearisome after a while, so a slightly more subtle performance works.

Ferrell isn’t for everyone, and that goes for his impersonation of George W. Bush. If you like his impression, though, you’ll like You’re Welcome, America. It’s not packed with laughs from start to finish, but it succeeds most of the time and offers an amusing experience.

The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio C+/ Bonus D+

Will Ferrell: You’re Welcome, America appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 5:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was messy presentation.

Sharpness varied. Close-ups were fine, but wider elements tended to be soft and murky. A fair amount of the show came from these kinds of shots, so that meant much of the program looked moderately ill-defined. I saw no edge enhancement, but I noticed mild instances of jaggies and shimmering; at times, the show looked a little blocky. Source defects were absent, but mosquito noise cropped up and made things seem somewhat flawed.

Colors tended to be mediocre. The show didn’t boast a broad palette, as it tended toward basic blues, with the occasional red thrown in as well. The tones were passable and that was about it. Blacks seemed decent but could be a bit inky, and shadows appeared somewhat flat and dense. This wasn’t a poor presentation, but it wasn’t particularly attractive.

Though not stellar, the Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of America was a bit more engaging than I expected. Usually this kind of show stays with nothing more than ambience and crowd noise, but this one added a little more. At the start, we got helicopter material from the surrounds, and occasional examples of effects cropped up from the side speakers as well. During this dialogue-heavy show, most of the audio remained concentrated on the front center, but music and effects contributed a bit more than usual.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was natural and concise; no edginess or other concerns affected the dialogue. Music appeared infrequently but showed decent vivacity. Effects also popped up on rare occasions, but they seemed acceptably accurate. Nothing here excelled, but the track was better than usual for this kind of show.

A few extras flesh out the DVD. Road to Broadway runs seven minutes, 45 seconds and includes remarks from writer/actor Will Ferrell, stage director Adam McKay, executive producer Jessica Elbaum, TV director Marty Callner, stage manager Charles Means, and actors Patrick Ferrell and Pia Glenn. “Road” gives us basics about he show’s creation and its staging. We get a smattering of decent facts, but it’s a pretty insubstantial piece that seems to exist mostly to promote the program.

Bush on Bush Interview pits Ferrell against himself. In this 13-minute, one-second piece, “President Bush” chats with “Rancher Bush”. Happily, it avoids the material found in the show, and it provides pretty good laughs.

Next comes a game called It’s Time Has Come of Being a Decider, America. This presents a series of true/false questions about President Bush and his administration. It’s an interesting way to explore Bush-related factoids, though it certainly accentuates the negative; if you choose the response that makes Bush look bad, you’ll usually be correct. The quiz is moderately interesting, but it goes on forever; I don’t think it ever ends, as I quit when questions started to repeat.

Finally, the set includes a Digital Copy. As always, this lets you plop the movie onto your computer or your portable viewing gizmo. Yippee!

Will Ferrell says goodbye to his signature impersonation via You’re Welcome, America. In this special, “President George W. Bush” reflects on his life and career. It’s not a consistent riot, but it includes a good number of laughs across its 90 minutes. The DVD provides flawed visuals, average audio and a couple of minor extras. This isn’t a great release, but the show’s worth a look.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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