5 August 2016 | classicalsteve
Satire of the Man with Delusions of Godhood with an Absolutely Believable Performance by Johnny Depp
While Darrell Hammond on Saturday Night Live does a decent Donald Trump, Johnny Depp of "Pirates of the Caribbean" fame proves why he may be the best performer in Hollywood. In this relatively short satirical film, Depp delivers an absolute spot-on imitation of the business magnate-turned-television reality star-turned-republican presidential demigod. If this was a more serious film at feature length, you'd start thinking Academy Award! At 50 minutes, it's just about as long as I could take in a movie concerning the most arrogant man on the planet with delusions of Godhood, although Depp's performance is more than worth the price of admission.
When I first found it on Netflix, I didn't know what to make of it. I began watching the featurette with lots of questions, the biggest being why had I not heard of it? The film begins with an explanatory intro by film director and former child/adolescent star Ron Howard. He explains the film was produced, written and starred Donald Trump in the late 1980's but was pre-empted by a Monday Night Football game in 1988, a lousy one at that. All copies were destroyed in a fire, according to Howard. Decades later, Howard was rummaging in a yard sale and he and another pack-rat found the only surviving copy among heaps of stuff. The other pack-rat was about the build of Melissa McCarthy, but luckily Howard won the day and has brought the film out for public consumption.
The film begins like one of those TV movies of the week you used to see in the 1970's and 1980's. Just about every television cliché is present from the music, similar to "Dallas", "Knots Landing", and "Love American Style" to the glittering fonts. Every credit is "Donald Trump" from producer to actor to editor. The film begins with a kid stealing a copy of Donald Trump's "The Art of the Deal" and escaping into an office. Of course in the office is Donald Trump (Johnnie Depp). The film becomes a mish-mash of episodes through his book as Trump explains how he got to where he is through being a ruthless and heartless American businessman. The kid is a mesmerized one-person audience hearing Trump's "story", if story it can be called. Chapters include among other things how to win lawsuits and how to defraud tenants. A few Hollywood name talent also appear including Alfred Molina (da Vinci Code) and Henry Wrinkler (who used to play Fonzie with Ron Howard on Happy Days in the 1970's).
While in some ways, "The Art of the Deal" is sort of like a long Saturday Night Live sketch, Depp's performance is superb. He's captured all of Trump's gestures and idiosyncrasies right down to fiddling with his hair. If a more serious film about the rise of Trump were ever produced, Depp would be the hands-on choice. A real interesting experiment in filmmaking, and if it weren't for the fact that this narcissist disguised as a human being is trying to become king of the world, he'd probably being suing Depp and the director Jeremy Konner and writer Joe Randazzo. Luckily, Trump is rather busy. Trying to become king of the world is a full-time job.