Attempts to cover up Watergate and the investigation that followed included similarly outlandish details, including, but not limited to, the public performance of “Deep Throat,” Nixon’s “I’m Not a Thief” speech, and G. Gordon Liddy’s memorably damning request for an easel on which to sketch out your top-secret plans. It’s not unusual for the team behind “White House Plumbers” to be drawn to a comedic angle to this story; after all, the post-Watergate era was a boom period for political humor and skepticism toward America’s authority figures.
“White House Plumbers,” however, doesn’t rely solely on the actual humor of the story, but amplifies the silliness to an almost ridiculous level. The first time he speaks, Theroux’s Liddy uses a goofy accent, immediately indicating just how unserious this mustachioed man is. Harrelson’s character, former CIA officer E. Howard Hunt, is portrayed as a right-wing braggart whose fist-shaking fits of rage are portrayed as ineffective and foolish. “Damn Jane Fonda!” he states at one point after declaring the country “has gone to hell”. In another scene, he yells at his son after finding a copy of TIME magazine in his apartment, calling it “leftist propaganda.” The weak punchline here is that the family subscribes to the magazine. Hunt likely reminds many of us of the true old-school Republicans in our lives, but not in a particularly laugh-inducing way.