Saturday, May 20, 2017

Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal: The Movie (2016)

George Carlin once asked, “If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?”  Such is the question with Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie.  The movie was released right after Donald Trump won the Republican primary.  The movie is presented as something that is done almost entirely by Trump.  The opening and closing credits have Trump listed as writer, director, producer and almost everything else.  The theme is performed by Kenny Loggins, although the credits posit that Trump could have performed it better.

The movie is satirical.  The opening scene has Ron Howard telling the audience that Trump made the TV movie based on the book, but that it was preempted by a football game that went into overtime.  Trump vowed never to let his masterpiece be seen again, but Howard managed to find a VHS copy of the movie at a yard sale.

The actual movie starts with a kid stealing a copy of the book upon which the movie is based.  He runs into an office only to find that it belongs to his all-time greatest hero, Donald Trump.  Trump allows the kid to remain.  This allows the kid to serve as an adoring audience for Trump while he explains The Art of the Deal.  He goes through several segments, which I understand correspond mostly to chapters in the book.

The thing is that it comes off exactly like you’d expect a Trump-made movie to come off.   The movie is made to have Trump look big.  He always hogs the scenes and tells about how great he is and how mediocre everyone else is.  In the scene with Ivana Trump, he constantly interrupts her.  The movie succeeded at looking like it was made by an amateur.

The joke plays out kind of quickly, leading to some repetition.  Trump explains seeing a picture of a boy looking at the Taj Mahal, which inspired him to buy the casino from Merv Griffin.  This becomes a running gag, wherein Trump repeatedly calls Griffin to make a deal.  There are also a few scenes where people tell Trump that he’ll never get the casino.

I’m not even sure I picked up on all of the humor.  Trump and others repeatedly claim how great Trump is with minority tenants.  The movie was supposed to be released in 1988, which would have made me 12.  I’m assuming that there was some lawsuit with Trump and his tenants around that time.   Some of the jokes are dated, such as an appearance by ALF of sitcom fame.  We also get an appearance by Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown, coming back to warn everyone that Trump will be made president.  Most people with get the Back to the Future reference, but I’m not sure how well known ALF is now.

There were several scenes that were vulgar, like Trump giving two middle fingers.  This isn’t really something for children.  Speaking of which, I don’t think most children will find this funny in a few generations.  As I said, some of the references are dated.  Also, I don’t know how much people will know of the personal lives of Trump in 50 years.  If you look back at presidents from around 50 years before you were born, how much do you know about them?  How many references would you get if Calvin Coolidge was the main character?  I think a lot of it is meant for today’s audience.

In case you’re wondering, I had to look up Der Scutt.  I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be some ironic name, but Donald Clark "Der" Scutt is the actual architect of Trump Tower.  I’m not really sure where the Der comes from, though.

It was 50 minutes total, which was about 25 minutes too long for me.  It was exactly what I expected it to be, given that it was presented as a VHS copy of a 1988 production by Donald Trump.  It’s just that the joke got kind of old quickly.  It was actually made by Funny or Die, which is known for much shorter skits.  If you stay past the closing credits, you’ll see an end scene of Ron Howard deciding that the tape isn’t worth saving.  He made the right choice burning it.


Alex Diaz-Granados said...

I would venture to say that even 25 minutes of this movie is way, way too much.

Brian Kuhl said...

It's like one of those reports you'd write for class where you tried to pad it to get it up to the minimum length.