Larry Wilmore's 'Nightly Show' Tackles 'American Sniper' Success, Controversy
"$200 million [at the box office]? Man, that's the cost of like 40 seconds of the Iraq war."
Larry Wilmore's new Comedy Central program, The Nightly Show, has only been on the air for a little more than a week, but he's already tackled two of the most controversial topics in entertainment right now: Bill Cosby and American Sniper.
The Daily Show alum devoted his Monday night show to the Clint Eastwood movie, discussing its box-office success and the controversy over its portrayal of subject Chris Kyle ("Asshole or hero?" Wilmore asked at the top of the show); its perspective on the Iraq war ("Some people are angry that American Sniper doesn't accurately criticize the Iraq war. Here, I'll do it for you: It's bad"); and its accuracy ("Should war movies be accurate? I hope not because those apes [from the Planet of the Apes franchise] freak me the f— out").
Wilmore opened his examination of Sniper by focusing on the film's success at the box office, airing part of a Good Morning America report that noted that the film had made more than $200 million domestically so far.
"$200 million? Man, that's the cost of like 40 seconds of the Iraq war," Wilmore said.
After explaining how American Sniper is the biggest January release ever and on pace to beat Passion of the Christ as the No. 1 R-rated movie of all time, Wilmore said, "It's official, Bradley Cooper is the new R-rated Jesus." A proclamation that came with a graphic of Cooper as Christ.
He then went on to consider why the film had drawn so much interest and the political controversy over the film, including Michael Moore's comments about snipers, throwing in a few jokes along the way.
He also brought in correspondent Shenaz Treasury, hoping her Middle Eastern roots would influence her perspective on the film, but she seemed more concerned with how mesmerizing she found Bradley Cooper.
"It's very difficult for me to be impartial about this 13-year conflict. On one hand, you have the soldier Chris Kyle and the brutal killings he was ordered to do and on the other hand, you have Bradley Cooper," Treasury said. "I mean, have you seen his eyes? It's like looking into the ocean. … Have you seen his shoulders? B.Coop added 40 pounds of sexy to play this role."
She went on: "Larry, his work as an actor was amazing. It was nothing short of heroic. I mean, he grew a beard. Give the man an Oscar."
Wilmore offered some final thoughts of his own, pointing out that the film is just one perspective on the conflict and that what happens in war is different from what happens in a war movie.
In conclusion, though, he too couldn't deny Cooper's physical appeal. "One thing we can all agree on, even the terrorists: Bradley Cooper's got some ridiculous abs," he said.
Later Wilmore's panel — consisting of Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi; Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; comedian Sabrina Jalees; and former special ops sniper and author of The Reaper, Nick Irving — shared their thoughts on the film, why it's striking a chord and how it might've fallen short.