Vice ★★★

As a writer/director, Adam McKay has spent his career mocking self-centered idiots, from the newsmen in Anchorman to the NASCAR drivers in Talladega Nights. But something odd happened at the conclusion of 2010’s The Other Guys, a buddy comedy featuring a pair of mismatched cops played by Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, who’d starred in all of McKay’s films up until that point. As the movie’s end credits rolled, the filmmaker surrounded them with an animated history lesson that gave real insight into the 2008 mortgage crisis. Politically charged, it portended the direction his career would take after one last dance with Ferrell in 2013’s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. First came 2015’s The Big Short, McKay’s deeper, cheeky examination of the events leading up to the crisis, with an ensemble cast featuring Christian Bale and Steve Carell. Not content to leave his past completely behind, McKay frequently broke the fourth wall for comedic asides and his focus on boys clubs remained as sharp as ever. So it’s no surprise that he’s brought all of these interests together for his latest picture, the Dick Cheney biopic Vice. Carell has fun playing Donald Rumsfeld (while Sam Rockwell cameos as George W. Bush), but it’s the chameleonic Bale who completely disappears into his devilish role as Cheney in this gleeful condemnation of the cancerous state of conservative politics. (At Assembly Row, Boston Common, FenwayKendall SquareSeaport, SomervilleSouth Bay and in the suburbs.)

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