Wag the Dog (1997)

Directed by Barry Levinson
Written by Hilary Henkin & David Mamet, based on the novel American Hero by Larry Beinhart
Starring Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Anne Heche, Denis Leary, Willie Nelson

My Advice: Don't Miss It.

First of all it must be said that with this film's principal photography lasting twenty-nine days, that makes it the anti-Eyes Wide Shut.  In an uncanny pseudo-carbon copy of recent events, this movie deals with a president's possible sexual scandal and answers the question, "What if we didn't hold a war, but everybody came anyway?"  To draw the attention of the public away from the scandal it is necessary to stage a war--excuse me, a "paegant"--with Albania.  This film is a very intelligent satire that not only pokes fun at those who hold the political reins, but we the American fidiots who put them in power.  DeNiro is the "Mr. Fix-it" (we're not sure what his true job title is) that Anne Heche brings in to come up , and Hoffman is definitely Oscar-worthy as the Hollywood producer that makes it all happen.  No matter how bad it gets, he's seen worse: "This is nothing!" he exclaims, and relates a Hollywood horror story.  My personal favorite was when he was four months into production on Song of Solomon before he found out he didn't have the rights.  Heche gets major points for operating in between these two heavyweights and not batting an eye.  Not to be missed spouting Mametisms is a large cast of supporting characters including Denis Leary's capitalistic bootmonger, Nelson's Quincy Jones turn for a "We Are the World" ripoff, and even Albanian emigrant James Belushi as himself.  A nice laid-back score by Mark Knopfler is notable also.  Especially recommended for the politically astute among you, it's a solid and smart comedy.

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