Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Overlooked Movies -- Wag the Dog

Hard to believe this movie appeared in 1997.  Seems like only a couple of years ago.  Maybe part of that is because I'm an old guy, but part of it is because the movie's just as relevant now as it was then.

The president of the U.S. is running for reelection and gets involved in bit of a scandal with an underage girl.  Conrad Brean (Robert de Niro) is the spin doctor brought in to distract the nation from the scandal.  His solution is to get the country into a fake war with Albania, and he hires Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) to do the faking.  

This cunning plan works at first, and when it starts to unravel, Conrad and Stanley go to greater and greater lengths to cover things up.  The more bizarre it gets, the funnier it gets, or at least that's how I found it.  At each disaster, Stanley declares, "This is nothing!" and comes up with a story from his Hollywood past to top it.  And then goes on to create more outrageous incidents.  The CIA gets involved, but Stanley and Conrad get them on board with the plot.  Things get all too real in the end, and it's easy to believe something like this could happen just as it's shown in the movie.

De Niro and Hoffman are great, but so is the rest of the all-star cast.  Things move fast, the dialog is snappy and funny, and the satire is sharp and on point.  Great stuff.


George said...

I loved WAG THE DOG when it first came out. Spin doctors, marketing a war, and political chicanery. What more could you want.

Jeff Meyerson said...

"It's a ...pageant."

A classic. All you had to do was look at that thing on Dustin's head to start laughing. And yes, I believed it then and I believe it now. What else explains Reagan invading Granada?


Fred Zackel said...

Dick Cheney and the invisible weapons of mass destruction.

Graham Powell said...

My favorite part: "It's okay, it's okay, he's alive!"


"Never mind."

Having said that, I thought the movie was kind of lumpy and not as great as it thought it was.

Todd Mason said...

Hm. It seemed too pat to me. But at least it wasn't quite as faux-shocked, shocked as the likes of TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING or THE PARALLAX VIEW.

wv: ornery