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Overall Rating

Awesome: 27.27%
Worth A Look38.18%
Average: 21.82%
Pretty Bad: 7.27%
Total Crap: 5.45%

3 reviews, 37 user ratings

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Wag the Dog
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by Slyder

"An interesting and yet, prophetic satire"
4 stars

It took Barry Levinson 29 days and $15 million to film this little fucker, and man, what a payoff. A dead-on satire with prophetic proportions and which has cast a spell in my views of politics afterwards, Wag The Dog is close to perfect, bending and crossing the barrier of fiction and reality to such extent that you start wondering as you laugh, could this really happen? Well, it did, and to a certain extent, it is still happening.

The President of the United States has been involved in a scandal when a Firefly Girl Scout accuses him of sexual harassment when she and her troops were visiting the White House. Itís even worse since its two weeks before Election Day and such news could be disastrous in the Presidentís campaign for reelection, so Presidential Adviser Winfried Ames (Anne Heche) decides to go and seek the advice of political consultant/spin doctor Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro) to get the president out of this mess. First Brean insists on fabricating denials from nonexistent emergencies (B-3 Bomber, B-3 WHAT?) and then, he decides to hire credit-hungry movie producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) so he can help him fabricate a war against the nation of Albania so that the focus (and the patriotism) of the people be on the war rather than the Presidentís affairs. Motss recruits a creative team to start the fabrication process, among them screenwriter Liz Butsky (Andrea Martin), trendsetter Fad King (Dennis Leary) and songwriter Johnny Dean (Willie Nelson), and start centering the scam all around supposed ďAmerican HeroĒ (but psychotic military prisoner about to explode) William Schumann (Woody Harrelson). The whole scheme is treated like an advertising campaign and plays like clockworkÖ that is, unless a few run-ins with the CIA and several glitches during the entire process follow, which force all three masterminds to improvise their best they can to keep the story going to keep the public distracted so that the President can win the reelection.

Enough of the prophetic things that this film would cause once Bill Clinton got caught red-handed with celebrity whore Monica Lewinski. This is one exceptionally well-made film. The story is highly original, with some tips of the hat given to Network and Broadcast News. Sure, there are several plot elements (like Johnny Deanís scenes) that seem ridiculous, and in fact they are but they are so well manufactured into the screenplayís twists and turns and into the scam that it makes it believable, which makes it absolutely hilarious, but at the same time, shocking. Why shocking, because its those same things that can be found in our own society, or just sitting there waiting on the edge for somebody to push them off the cliff and into the void of reality. Satire of course has never been more present in this film, ridiculing every aspect of our society and itís views of the media of how we buy whatever shit there is on television, and also the much plausibility that this film includes that are not so far from real life (enter Clinton/Lewinski). Itís present in our world. Clinton was fucked over Lewinski, what does he do? Sends air raids to Kosovo, and even wanted to send troops in Kosovo. Does anyone other than the well-educated American know where the fuck Kosovo is? Doesnít this plot ring the bell to anyone? Not only this, Henkinís and Mametís screenplay as well as Barry Levinsonís direction is so effective on this film that they manage to blend the lines of what is real and what is fiction, and it comes to a point where you canít distinguish one from the other. Youíll laugh at it, but youíll also be shocked by it, since in the end, youíll realize that youíre only laughing at yourself, and laughing at the whole world that surrounds you. As I would say, filmmaking at itís best. The ending was somewhat anti-climatic, and it kind of ran out of steam, but itís understandable and in the end, the experience as a whole, was compelling and hilarious.

Not only the film works because of screenwriting and direction, the acting stable must also live up the job, and they do. Dustin Hoffman is hilarious and very, very believable as the credit-hungry movie producer Stanley Motss and delivers it with style, with some classic one-liners that will make the trivia. Robert De Niro is a little laid-back, but still manages to pull off very decently in his role. Anne Heche was fucking hot, and she manages a good performance, but man sheís just red hot. Another broad standout is Woody Harrelson as the psychotic rapist-turned-hero William Schumann, which is essentially a cameo but still, its one of the most hilarious parts of the film. Some people actually criticized this part since it brought up rape as comedy. I donít think the filmís intentions were never that, but more of the fact that they chose a psychotic rapist to be a hero, thatís what made it funny. Willie Nelson seems out of place and an odd choice, but I guess it was the odd the reason they casted him since I was laughing my ass off every time he came up.

In the end, go rent this film. Itís an enjoyable satire, and a very funny one, but also one with an important message that everyone should learn from. Itís definitely one of the finest films to come out in 1997. See it.

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originally posted: 08/05/03 12:22:07
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User Comments

5/27/14 Joe Smaltz loved the fast banter, as a political wonk, the plot was frightenly believable. 5 stars
1/06/11 victar It's a scary possibility 4 stars
8/14/08 Charles Tatum Smug and condescending, I got tired of being insulted 3 stars
4/16/07 mar shit of movie 1 stars
3/28/07 fools♫gold It's "Network" gone average, if that's at all possible. 3/5 or 4/5. 3 stars
2/08/07 Victoria L Horribly slow-paced, unrealistic and simply not very convincing overall. SUCKS ASS 1 stars
10/03/05 steve b Brilliant! Wife and I loved it both times we viewed 5 stars
7/06/05 Indrid Cold Satirizes a very easy target; not particularly funny or thought-provoking. 3 stars
1/06/05 Jeffrey Banks So right, Robyn. I love you! You'd marry me, 'cept you don't want to be Robyn Banks. 4 stars
1/06/05 Robyn Jamil-Walid Best part is one of last undeflowered appearances of Kirsten Dunst. 4 stars
11/02/04 muddy Like Dr. Strangelove... very disturbing comedy/reality 5 stars
10/23/04 UMER both the great actors proving their metal once more and the result is just HILARIOUS 5 stars
12/08/03 john Hoffman plays Evans - wonderful satire 5 stars
11/08/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) Very very clever, very entertaining. Well-written & acted. 4 stars
4/13/03 Mystique Funny 4 stars
3/31/03 spacecowboy it was kind of weird. 4 stars
3/08/03 Jack Sommersby Sharp and funny. Super dialogue and priceless performance by Hoffman. 4 stars
8/23/02 R.W. Welch Lacks the sharp writing needed for a good satirical pic. Doesn't quite click. 3 stars
5/15/02 Jeffrey Banks So right, Robyn. I love you! You'd marry me, 'cept you don't want to be Robyn Banks. 4 stars
5/15/02 Robyn Jamil-Walid Best part is one of last undeflowered appearances of Kirsten Dunst. 4 stars
4/05/01 Hawkeye A great analysis of politics in the US. Any politically-minded person should check it out. 5 stars
10/06/00 Monday Morning Outstanding cast & satire. The smarter you are the more you'll like it. 5 stars
2/25/00 Bozo Liked Woody Harrelson's cameo & maybe another moment or two at most 2 stars
11/04/99 Karahde Khan Great cast, but totally wasted. It disappointed and bored me. 2 stars
6/10/99 Homer J. Simpson This movie was funny and had perfect actors 4 stars
4/07/99 unstrung im sorry, but this movie REALLY SUCKS ALL ASS, everyone cast in this film was out of place 1 stars
1/24/99 Lucy B. Boring and pointless. Greatly overrated. 2 stars
11/27/98 Mr.Pink Boring satire with dissapointing performances.. 2 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob Great concept, Great cast, it just kinda ran out of steam. 4 stars
10/08/98 PyThomas So good it's .... creepy. 5 stars
10/05/98 Johny "We thought we were making a satire, now it's a documentry" -- Denis Leary 4 stars
9/25/98 Foxgirl Pretty realistic.A good film with great actors. 4 stars
9/04/98 Badass Compelling and a hoot! 5 stars
8/28/98 Mister Whoopee Might have been prophetic, but that doesn't make it compelling. 3 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball Like Nostradamus and shit. 4 stars
8/21/98 Ryan_A Overrated. Yet, timely and oddly prophetic. 3 stars
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  25-Dec-1997 (R)



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