As one might surmise from its title, director Param Gill’s Bad President will not appeal to those who support/like Trump. But for those who are tired of his crude comments, bullish demeanor, and inability to take responsibility, then the fantastical comedy is a nice bit of catharsis. That isn’t to say that the movie is without foibles, but the Gill-John Buchanan penned script proves rather amusing, and star Eddie Griffin shines brightly as Satan. Yes, Griffin is Satan, and it is delightful.
Bad President begins just before Donald J. Trump (Jeff Rector) announced that he was running for the highest office in the land. Satan, who goes by Luther, is in a bit of a slump, as he and his minions are not attracting the same number of souls they used to. When devising ways of rectifying this problem, the idea of using Trump’s greed, narcissism, and racist tendencies appeals to the king of the underworld.
After a contentious first meeting, Luther proves to Trump what he is capable of, so Trump agrees. But, after learning that his soul is the price, Trump refuses. So, Luther airs all of Trump’s dirty laundry (the Access Hollywood tape, Stormy Daniels, as herself, coming forward, etc.). This forces Trump’s hand to take the unholy deal, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“…forces Trump’s hand to take the unholy deal…”
The throughline of Satan causing Trump woes to make him agree to a pact is used as an excuse to jump through time. So, some scene transitions are confusing, probably more so if any audience member was not aware, or does not recall certain significant moments, as there have been so many with this administration. This does mean that Bad President feels more like a loose series of interconnected vignettes versus a full-on story. I suspect this will bother some viewers, but the movie still works.
It overcomes this partially because the screenwriters know that the things Trump really said or did are crazier than anything they can imagine. They let the man speak for himself, and in the moments that are pure fantasy, they do a solid job of emulating his cadence and word choice. It also helps that Luther/Satan is hysterical. His anger at Trump’s stupidity versus the other evil beings he has helped is funny and believable. Heck, one almost empathizes with the Angel of Darkness.
Despite the iffy make-up job, Jeff Rector does a pretty good job mimicking the President. He turns up the slurred words or odd pronunciations a bit for comedic effect, and it works nicely. But really, this is an Eddie Griffin vehicle, and he shines brightly. Griffin’s star quality and energy are on full display as he effortlessly waltzes through each scene with a winning smile and charisma to spare. He single-handedly makes up for any flaws present in Bad President, as he alone is worth the brief time commitment the film asks of audiences.
Look, Bad President occasionally tries too hard for a joke, and it feels less like a story and more of a highlight real of the most unbelievable moments in the Trump campaign. That, coupled with the lousy make-up and low-production values, means the film might turn some off before they even start it. But, thanks to the funny lines, the movie’s cathartic feeling, and Griffin’s excellent performance, this comedy provides a few chuckles that make it worth lightly recommending.
"…a nice bit of catharsis."