Depp seals the deal in ‘Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie’
Jimmy Kemper | Thursday, February 18, 2016
You can’t stump the Trump. The master of the universe has taken over the media, the Republican Party and now, the long-lost genre of television movies.
“Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie” gives us a new spin on the Trump character. At center screen is a Trump who directs, produces, co-produces, casts and stars in Funny or Die’s faux made-for-TV film. Johnny Depp’s Trump is a faithful recreation of the genuine narcissist we have come to know and hate deeply through his sexist tweets, racist rallies and general bullying of Jeb Bush. Depp seamlessly slips into the role of the real estate tycoon, rocking his ridiculously great blonde hair, cheap suits, thick NeW York accent and a few extra pounds in one of the most convincing parodies of Trump this election cycle. Depp does a great job convincing us this is a man who truly believes he can make America great again.
The new film avoids the generic, softball image of Trump featured in the likes of Saturday Night Live by taking us to the beginnings of Trump’s mega-celebrity and megalomania back in the ’80s. Back then, Trump was just a world-topping real estate mogul, not the man most likely to win the Republican nomination. After a brief introduction by Ron Howard, who explains this “lost film” was originally supposed to air on network television but got pulled because of a particularly dreadful Monday night NFL game, we encounter Depp’s Trump in his Trump Tower office, where he is explaining to a young boy in a backwards baseball cap “the art of the deal.”
Though only based on Trump’s bestseller “The Art of the Deal” in name, the Funny-or-Die movie takes full advantage of the book’s mixed memoir and advice structure. Over the course of the movie, Trump attempts to buy out Merv Griffin’s (Patton Oswalt) Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and relates advice to the boy, who gets switched out several times throughout the film whenever Trump disapproves of the character’s ethnicity.
Throughout this Taj Mahal deal, Trump commits a number of atrocities that are only vaguely more ridiculous than his modern television antics. Frivolous lawsuits, inexhaustible misogyny and criticism of dead Vietnam veterans (Trump prefers soldiers who don’t die) blur the line between satire and reality even further.
The atmosphere of the film is enhanced by an obnoxious, screechy guitar accompaniment for every single “Trump Card Element of the Deal” as well as cheap, fuzzy VHS visuals and abhorrent, in-your-face typography. We also get a range of nostalgic ’80s cameos including the puppet ALF, who turns up as Trump’s best man at his wedding, and Christopher Lloyd as Doc from “Back to the Future,” who goes back in time to stop Trump from blowing out his birthday candles.
While all of these elements are great, “The Art of the Deal” is really held together by Depp’s incredible performance. Thanks to the makeup, wig and fat suit, he’s totally unrecognizable in this role, but it’s his mannerisms and articulations that really seal the deal. Trump is a tough character to get down because of his bombastic brassiness. However, this ultimately works in Depp’s favor, as Depp has been playing weird, larger-than-life characters for years. Now, for the first time since “Pirates of the Caribbean,” he finally has a production that can keep up with his eccentricity.
“The Art of the Deal” has a unique place in the commentary on this election season. The 50-minute-long movie has great production value and an edgier aesthetic than the average satire. Furthermore, it was perfectly timed to come out right after Trump’s big win in New Hampshire. Because of that, it’s very “in the moment” and will probably quickly be forgotten as the political competition and Trump’s rhetoric escalate. For now, though, it stands as far above the competition as Donald stands above Jeb.