movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] This movie has been strongly recommended to me by several people for a long time. (Apparently since I’m into politics, I’m supposed to automatically love any political movie.)

PLOT SUMMARY: A fake war is launched in order to win an election.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Karl Rove-like figure exploits and kills producer to win election .

PEOPLE: Dustin Hoffman (again?! We just saw him in the movie Volcano), Robert De Niro, Anne Heche (who we also just saw in the movie Volcano), Denis Leary, Willie Nelson, Kirsten Dunst (barely), William H. Macy…. I didn’t remember Harland Williams, but he was in Slacker Cats so now I’m noticing his name in all the movies I watch.

QUIRKS: Political comedy. Fake wars. Media manipulation. This movie hits pretty close to home.

SOUNDTRACK: Willie Nelson, and… Huey Lewis?!?!?!

MORALS: Politics and media are both deceptive. Top-down media can’t be trusted, which is why the new, grassroots, bottom-up media (the blogosphere, twitter, citizen journalists) is actually better than the central authority of top-down media where almost every newspaper tells the same story.

POLITICS: War gains support. And moronic voters fall for it. And those who don’t vote? They don’t matter.

BAD STUFF: It could have been more enjoyable. More funny. More poignant.

CONCLUSION: Pretty damn awesomely twisted, but just not as enjoyable as we had hoped. Political satire can be funnier than this. *Most* comedies are funnier than this. It was still a great gimmick to explore — but, much like Lord Of War, I didn’t like this nearly as much as people told me I would.

Clint: Netflix: 3+/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10. I say “3+” because, while I’m rating it 3 stars, there were definitely 4-star parts–just not enough to elevate this to a 4-star movie. I’m thinking 3.25ish.
Carolyn: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 6/10.
The native public rating for this movie is Netflix: 3.4/5 stars, IMDB: 7.0/10. Seems my rating is almost exactly the average rating.

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re into politics, or want to see good examples of media manipulation… This is worth checking out. But don’t check it out for its comedy prowess.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Bob Roberts, a 1992 movie about Christian folk singer politicians — sort of reminded me of the shallow manipulations politics use to gain support among the masses. But the most similar “movie” to Wag The Dog is real life. Bill Clinton’s sex scanadal which was followed by threatening military action against Iraq; George W. Bush’s War On Terror, which didn’t even start until several years after this movie came out; and Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize while sending more troops to Afghanistan (they talked about nominating the president in this movie for a peace prize after having the fake war).


1) Stanley Motss: What did television ever do to you?
Winifred Ames: It destroyed the electoral process

2) 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.
Stanley Motss: Is that true?
Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: Who the hell’s to say?

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Brent & Christian loved it. Ian, Dad, Glen, & Metinee liked it. Benj didn’t like it.

Mood: headachey
Music: Guns N’ Roses – It’s So Easy