Review: ‘Funny or Die Presents Donald Trump’s The Art Of the Deal: The Movie’

Donald Trump Art of a Deal
Funny or Die

Once you get past the sheer gall of “Funny or Die” putting together a 50-minute send-up of Donald Trump — starring a near-unrecognizable Johnny Depp, no less — the kick of “Funny or Die Presents Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie” begins to quickly yield diminishing returns. For those shaking their heads in disbelief over the mogul/reality TV star’s new-found career in politics, however, just soaking in Depp’s mannerisms and dead-on impersonation, along with the various celebrity cameos, will probably be compensation enough.

Dropped the day after Trump’s Republican primary win in New Hampshire, the not-quite-film was certainly shrewdly timed. Yet the actual product, directed by Jeremy Konner and written by Joe Randazzo, hews a little too closely to Will Ferrell’s TV movie parody “The Spoils of Babylon,” down to the fact that Trump — the supposed producer, writer, director and star of what Ron Howard introduces as a lost 1980s masterpiece — splashes his own name across every conceivable credit.

The framing device involves a young boy shoplifting Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal,” only to wind up face to face with the man himself. Trump (as played by Depp) proceeds to lecture the kid on the finer points of his take-no-prisoners philosophy, in the midst of his fervent negotiations to buy the Taj Mahal (the hotel, not the actual landmark) from Merv Griffin (Patton Oswalt).

Along the way, Trump breaks down chapters from the book, and more unflattering aspects of his biography, telling the kid that he only discriminates against people “based on how they affect property values.” Later, when ALF appears (yes, that ALF), Trump calls him “the only illegal alien that I love.”

Other than skewering Trump, both personally and politically, this is obviously a rather slim construct. And while Depp throws his all into perhaps his hammiest role since Jack Sparrow, it probably would have benefited from a bit less length and a tighter focus, balancing as it does plenty of sly asides about Trump’s political future with satirizing the bad old days of TV movies, which, in the funniest beats, includes replacing the kid halfway through, and an honest-to-gosh power ballad from Kenny Loggins. (Michaela Watkins could have used a bit more time, too, given her hilarious impression of Trump’s first wife, Ivana.)

Of course, given how polarizing Trump has become during the current campaign, mocking him in this fashion amounts to preaching to the liberal choir. That’s not to say this featurette doesn’t have its moments, only that in this case less really would have been more — a criticism that feels more like a note for the next time, frankly, than a deal-breaker.

 

Review: 'Funny or Die Presents Donald Trump's The Art Of the Deal: The Movie'

(Special; Funny or Die, Feb. 10)

Crew

Executive producers, Owen Burke, Chriss Bruss; producers, Allison Hord, Matt Pittman; director, Jeremy Konner; writer, Joe Randazzo. 50 MIN.

Cast

Johnny Depp, Ron Howard, Alfred Molina, Robert Morse, Patton Oswalt, Jack McBrayer, Michaela Watkins, Henry Winkler, Stephen Merchant

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  1. Get the whole movie on Netflix. He dogs everyone out. Give me a ballot! I want to vote now! President Trump! The USA needs Trump!

  2. Matt Burns says:

    I love Johnny Depp and his work and, although the impersonation of Trump was very dead-on and hilarious, I feel this mockumentary was full of cheap shots, sophomoric oversimplifications, and I would maybe even say borderline-slander. The fact that this was released right after Trump won big in NH is maybe suspicious?? I’m not any kind of a super-fan of Trump and it’s one thing to poke fun of people in good fun, but this mockumentary in parts basically says that Trump doesn’t write his own books, hates black people and treats women like scum. Is this true? Who knows, maybe it is, but I don’t think anybody knows for sure. The fact of the matter is that our perception of Trump has been molded by sensational media soundbites and half-truthed ‘trending’ articles. Nobody really truly knows anything about this man except what the media has fed to us via slanted coverage. The corporate media has done everything they can to make this guy look like a buffoon, because he’s too rich to be bought; i.e he doesn’t need any campaign contributions because he’s so rich he can pay for everything himself!

    Maybe this guy Trump is a complete pig, I don’t know, but everybody’s been making fun of him and that’s just not right to do, no matter who the target is. People are spray-painting Swastikas on his Hollywood Boulevard Star. I see Internet memes on Facebook featuring a nude painting of Trump with a small, prickish you-know-what. This is ridiculous. We live in a society that is supposed to be fighting against bullying. All the so-called ‘liberals’ out there talk a big game about tolerance until a guy like Trump comes along and threatens their world-views. Believe me, I always thought I would be the last person to stick up for a billionaire like Trump, but this mockumentary is shallow, it’s cartoony, one-dimensional and, like I said, borderline-slanderous. I can take a joke, folks, but this goes beyond joke-status. If I were Trump and really I mean if I put myself in this dude’s shoes…I think I would be justified in suing for slander.

    • Matt Burns says:

      Just a post-script to add to my comment (above). I did mention it at the beginning of my comment but I just wanted to be clear that I’m a HUGE fan of Depp and his work in general; however, this particular project made me raise my eyebrows a bit. I hope I didn’t come off as too harsh. Consider my comment above to be some constructive criticism and I also think empathizing with Trump should be considered when very extreme things are being said about him, especially that he’s a racist, misogynist etc. (not to mention that he doesn’t write his own books). I wouldn’t want things like that said about me without some hard facts to back them up. I mean, it’s one thing if there’s hard evidence out there, but like I said in the comment, Trump’s racist, misogynistic, buffoon of a persona has mostly been molded by a corporate-influenced media with an agenda to bring Trump down because he’s a political candidate who can’t be bought through campaign contributions. Corporate America wants this guy gone and they’re conditioning us via the media to believe that he’s a racist, misogynistic buffoon. He may not be perfect, but we all need to make sure we don’t hop on the bullying wagon that special interest groups want us to hop on. Tune out the slanted media and think for yourself. This is no perfect human being and maybe he’s not that great of a person altogether, but is this guy REALLY as bad as he’s being portrayed in media? That’s what we need to think about.

  3. Phil Esteen says:

    I am perfectly wiling to vote for the “Depp Trump” and have the real Trump deported to a fascist dictatorship of the real Trump’s choice.

    The real Trump, being a consummate racist, bully, misogynist and fascist, would ‘fit in’ perfectly in Russia. In Mother Russia, Trump’s asininity will come to full fruition.

    America is already well aware that Trump and Putin have a big white man bromance brewing, so why keep the two lovers apart? Just as Lenny Kravitz sang “Let love rule,” but make sure their love-stank blossoms in Moscow.

  4. yaelleno says:

    While good actors put a lot of effort in, I wonder why someone spent this kind of money and put forth this kind of effort. Hollywood propaganda machine? Whom do the makers of the film want to be President? We know they are all liberal. But Hillary is the most corrupt person to seek the office. And Bernie Sanders would make it harder to finance films or to profit from them.

  5. joenorthpal says:

    A perfect show case that demonstrates the perversion of arts and society after 50 years of Marxist liberal left wing indoctrination via education, media, hollywood, and politics.
    The age of infantile Idiocracy is here, the woefull hysterical lunge of the beta male role model Johnny Dipp at the Alpha male Donald Trump shows how truly desperate and pathetic they truly are.
    Johnny Dipp and his ilk attempt at public attention have been thrown off and totally rejected leaving their last grasp of narcissism being a sex change.

    • William says:

      I bet you would have loved the alpha male Adolf Hitler too–he loved “making Germany great again” and taking on the “perverts” of the German Republic.

      It’s a shame that the only values you worship are power and hatred of people who different from you. It’s even more of a shame that you don’t realize that a billionaire like Trump is using your blind loyalty to his advantage, not yours.

    • Mike says:

      Tell everyone how you really feel.

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