Why does the dog wag its tail?
Because the dog is smarter than the tail.
If the tail were smarter, it would wag the dog.
Robert De Niro
Wag the Dog is charming and hilarious in so many ways. With politics being such a huge chunk of the news these days, and the “Decision 2012” seemingly around the corer Wag the Dog is a great way to look at politics in a comedic form. Let’s face it, most of us think our politicians are less than spectacular, and majority of the time it’s clear re-election is more important than doing whats right for the country. Political interest groups, a Tea Party movement, and the squabbling that occurs between Democrats and Republicans has created a huge stalemate in Washington. Amidst the normal disagreements we see between politicians on a daily basis, we also see “sexual misconduct” cases pop up involving one of our “beloved” politicians. They usually turn into a comedy roast on that politician, but when it happens to the President it’s a BIG deal. The questions is, how does the President avert potential catsotrophe days before his re-election?
Wag the Dog explores this scenario in a “black comedy” style of film making, sending a comedic message, “you can’t believe everything you see on television.”
Let’s lay the land out on this one before we get into the characters. The President of the United States finds himself caught up in a sex scandal just days before his re-election. His team who is in obvious panic, hires a “spin doctor” whose main goal is to figure out a viable way to take the heat of this sex scandal story and divert the attention to something more significant until the re-election process is finished. A spin doctor being the crafty gentlemen he is, hires a famous Hollywood producer to create a fake war with Albania. If there is one thing that can divert peoples attention, it’s a WAR.
Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: What’s the thing people remember about the Gulf War? A bomb falling down a chimney. Let me tell you something: I was in the building where we filmed that with a 10-inch model made out of Legos.
Robert De Niro plays Conrad Brean, a famous spin doctor who is capable of turning a horrible situation into a believably good one. A man with a talent to create diversions that can fool millions upon millions of people. Conrad is called upon by the Presidents team to fix this sex scandal problem, and he calls on a famous Hollywood producer to help him out. De Niro’s character is sharp and focused, never willing to let the main goal at hand slip away from him.
Dustin Hoffman plays Stanley Motss a very successful Hollywood producer, whose always looking for his next big project. When Conrad approaches Stanley and tells him about the situation, Stanley is a bit confused on how he can help, but clearly knows this could be his biggest project yet. The only problem is no one can ever know about it. The interaction between Hoffman and De Niro is spectacular, and even with De Niro’s hard exterior we know he’s got the comedic chops to make us laugh on screen. Hoffman’s role is extremely memorable. A producer who wants more credit for his greatness, and is willing to do it by producing a fake war with Albania. The satirical comedy during this sequence is hilarious, and you start to see how gullible a population can really be.
Anne Heche plays Winifred Ames the Presidents right hand “woman.” As this crazy process is taking place, Winifred is staying in communication with the President and passing along all the info to Stanley, and Conrad. Heche has her work cut out for her as she acts along two brilliant leads, but she does hold her own. Winifred is constantly trying to keep things sane, while adhering to the Presidents funny requests.
Woody Harrelson plays Sergeant William Schumann, at least that’s what they want you to think! As Conrad and Stanley keep coming up with ways to distract the country from the sex scandal, they come up with this fictitious war hero who is endearing the country after his heroic efforts. Keep in mind no war, no turmoil, no problems with Albania, all scenes captured in a studio, with a population believing every second of it! Harrelson is in the movie briefly but is absolutely a scene stealer, and deranged in so many different ways. If you are a Harrelson fan this is one of those roles that flies under the radar.
Along with these wonderful actors, Wag the Dog also features Denis Leary, Willie Nelson, William H. Macy and many more who play small but memorable roles throughout the film.
Wag the Dog is a must see comedy! At a time where sex scandals, and pure political gaffes are a plenty, Wag the Dog seems to make a very nice connection with the world today. The power of television really is an eye-opener.
My 1-10 scale = 9