About 21 months ago I wrote excitedly about College Republicans, a “very smartly written, character-rich, darkly humorous” Wes Jones script “about an actual 1973 road trip taken by infamous Bush strategist and Fox News scumbag Karl Rove, then 23, and the late Republican attack dog Lee Atwater, then 22, as they campaigned and dirty-tricked their way across the south in order to get Rove elected chairman of the College Republican National Committee.”
I described it as “another Due Date mixed with politics…an origin story about the wily and colorful beginnings of two scoundrels who made their bones as the architects of rightwing attack-and-subvert politics — guys who not only put two Bushes into the White House but injected a vicious and reprehensible strain into American politics that not only thrives today but has metastasized.
It seemed to me like a natural for Todd Phillips to direct. The idea at the time (or so I understood) was for Shia LeBeouf and Paul Dano to play Rove and Atwater. The project had some heat in late 2010, but I’m presuming it died because an idea crept in that College Republicans would be processed as an overly partisan satire that wouldn’t play with the yahoos. If anyone knows what really happened, please inform.
College Republicans is “funny and entertaining,” I wrote, “and the Atwater character is a likable good-old-boy, part snake and part horndog, and Rove is a brilliant but snarly schemer who believes in Machiavelli and getting revenge. And it’s got rowdy episodes and wild shenanigans (sexual seduction, colorful language, sudden fisticuffs, rummaging through garbage cans, being chased by dogs and cops and hopping over fences) and a scrappy and suspenseful third-act climax that works in the same way that hundreds of other films have worked — i.e., everything comes to a head and the characters fulfill their fate.”