Actor Dan Butler falls into the abyss of love with the Machiavellian Karl Rove
Bush political mastermind Karl Rove was a tempting comedic target for anyone, gay or straight. So it’s no surprise Dan Butler was drawn to a real-life megalomaniac that could, quite frankly, be the role of a lifetime. Best known for his portrayal as the skirt-chasing straight sportscaster Bulldog on the perennial comedy hit Frasier, Butler has laid claim to numerous, often juicy, stage and screen parts for decades.
But being a sitcom icon can be a blessing and a curse. Most good actors are chameleons by nature, and when casting directors, producers, and, to be fair, audiences lock you into one color, it can become artistically frustrating, if not deadly to the career. Thus Karl Rove seemed a brilliant choice to goose Butler’s résumé. After all, the man practically molded his own persona as a Beltway Dr. Frankenstein, while his political science project went from neck-bolt dolt to violence-prone Prez.
In the comedic documentary Karl Rove, I Love You, that fascination spirals into a black hole of romantic obsession that is as maddening and confusing as this strange film can often be. Rove careens from behind-the-scenes Guffman-ville territory to a more acid-trip insipidity of A Night at the Improv, occassionally producing Larry David discomfort, while throwing in a really weird dose of Cold Case for good measure. Occassionally this smorgasbord works, and when it does, it’s challengingly funny. But when it doesn’t, Rove is as hard to hold as its target. Just not nearly as deadly. —Steven Foster