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10162008_w.jpgWhen the “South Park” boys looked at George W. Bush not long after he’d been sworn in in 2001, they saw in the malapropism-prone Texan we’d sort of elected the perfect sitcom character, a genial doofus whose hijinks could always be resolved in the space of half an hour, even though those problems hung on the unresolvable ones over which our country regularly tears itself apart. And with all that’s happened in the intervening years, with “W.” we find that when Oliver Stone looks at our current president, he apparently also sees…a genial doofus. “W.” isn’t a vitriolic indictment of G.W., or, despite the goofy soundtrack choices (“Yellow Rose of Texas,” more than once), so much a satire — it’s a “Nixon”-esque timeline-leaping biopic that, like many films in the genre, attempts to solve its subject as if he were a math problem. The answer here is: daddy issues.

It’s mightily unbalancing to watch selected moments of the past eight years in politics recapped (with recognizable actors) like the “previously on” preface of a primetime soap, and to see the current situation in Iraq attributed to the family fuck-up trying to prove to his pops that he’s just as a deserving of paternal affection as his brother Jeb. “W.” is bewildering all around, first and foremost because it seems to be the year’s most unrequested attempt at humanism: George W. Bush as a man to pity, as a good ol’ boy from a wealthy background who’s got neither smarts nor political drive, but who does have plenty of charisma, who gets into “the family business” to force Bush senior to take him seriously, who invades Iraq to do what his dad wouldn’t, who places his trust in his advisers and faith, only to have them steer him wrong, who’s an inept leader who always sincerely means well. (We also see him choke on that pretzel — some things you just can’t pass up.) G.W. is played straight, with Josh Brolin giving an earnest, unpretty performance that, unlike most of the cast playing the Cabinet, gets beyond impersonation.

We’re still too close for fictional takes on our two terms with number 43 to be anything more than knee-jerk — controversy-courting fantasies about assassination or limp lampoonery — but “W.”, hurried pointlessly into theaters before the election, affects having distance and perspective that isn’t there. In 20 years, it’ll be just another mediocre biopic. Watching it now, with its subject still in office, it seems like a dream of closure, as if by bending G.W.’s career into a familiar format we could be done with it when the credits rolled.

[Photo: “W.”, Lionsgate, 2008]

+ “W.” (Lionsgate)

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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