Monday, January 19, 2009

1/14/09: Wag the Dog (1997)

The Dustin clock is turned considerably forward a couple of decades to this late-Nineties comedy, a political satire featuring Hoffman as bigshot Hollywood producer Stanley Motts, who along with professional spin doctor Corad Brean (Robert DeNiro) is called in to tidy up a sex scandal involving the president of the United States. Most of the humor comes from the lengths these guys will go in order to distract the public, even if it means conjuring up a fake war with Albania. The twist involving a war hero (Woody Harrelson) is pure comedy gold; Denis Leary, Anne Heche, Jim Belushi (as himself) and country crooner Willie Nelson all add their personal touches. I take a particular shine to comedies that mine laughs from unexpected places, and this one trades on rape and murder, among other things. Dustin's character is said to be based on real-life producer Bob Evans, who of course produced Hoffman's movie Marathon Man. Rating: 4/5.

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