Wag the Dog - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Wag the Dog Reviews

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May 5, 2019
The best comedy movie ever made! With the best movie quote ever spoken: "This is nothing!"
Super Reviewer
April 22, 2019
Great film that is a black satire on politics and the many scandals surrounding officials in the oval office. This is a mainstream indie film that works well and provides evidence of the importance of storytelling and character. A strong script in development is a must and you can see this is a passion film for everyone involved. The film was made in 28 days, that fact should entice you all the more, structured film. Hoffman and Levinson are a dynamite team and they offer a film that is more commercial compared to Sphere, which I did review favourably. Wag the Dog is a great film and one film you should watch before reviewing the events of the Clinton scandal. 18/04/2019
December 29, 2018
Vote For Honesty.

Wag The Dog

Levinson's smart and electrifying schemes on conjuring the elections is a work of pure art and not your usual sketchy comic drama. From the first frame the tale generates an exuberant energy on screen with pragmatic conversation that fuels on the environment offered to it that feels honest and real to the core. Similar to your usual mundane office day, this hectic week triumphs on its cutthroat sarcasm and hilarious ideologies. Unlike your usual structure, it is a one big act that feeds on high pitched dramatic antics that the gripping screenplay is brimmed of. The makers aren't hesitating on making big provocative decisions, their genuinely effective feeling towards justifying the characters is a testament to the writers' brilliance.

As much as hilarious the film is, the grasp of it towards practicality grows stronger and stronger that induces eye popping complex drama among the characters that are all at their vulnerable point of their life, either through success or failure. The content revolving around such political crises ought to have a diverse solution, and Levinson's world has managed to be diplomatic yet accurate to its requirements and answers. Hoffman at the realm of it is a delight to watch, he can pull off comic timing as perfect as his dramatic performance is.

In fact arguably, Hoffman is a much better humorisc than De Niro is, his body language speaks for his intentions that are sinister and quirky. De Niro in his underdog character that is often retreated by the makers as a trump card in crisis. And he flaunts majestically on screen especially the first time Macy confronts him for some questioning. Hecke supports convincingly and Harrelson lifts the film to a whole new level through his cynicism. Wag The Dog leaves its audience wagging the tale merrily.
½ October 29, 2018
The premise of this movie is simple: Only two weeks before election day, a sitting president is hit by a sex scandal. A brief dalliance with a Firefly Girl becomes public knowledge, and now his 17% lead is about to plummet. Winifred Ames (Anne Heche), one of the President's top aides, calls in spin doctor extraordinary, Conrad Bream (Robert De Niro). Conrad goes to work immediately, deciding that the best way to get the public's mind off the Firefly Girl is to give them something bigger to think about. "Change the story, change the lead" is his motto, so he decides to manufacture a war against Albania. Brilliant performances by Dustin Hoffman and De Niro make this an intelligent laugh riot. Levinson and Mamet have created a minor masterpiece of comedy.
October 6, 2018
If you are not living in the woods outside of a modern civilisation this one is an absolutely must see.
July 31, 2018
Every political satire I've watched requires some engagement to seem plausible, except this one. Wag the Dog is the only one of its kind that contains just enough realistic weight to be uncomfortably realistic. You will laugh out loud, and feel that all things make a lot of sense without wondering. Also, it doesn't try to be bitter and harsh as other satirical movies do. In fact, it's always fluffy and warm, and that makes the movie quiet ironical in its own. Especially, because it's very very painfully relevant.

All the actors delivered terrific performances, and there is superb chemistry between every actor and another, even who have smaller roles.

Needless to say, Robert De Niro is great. But Dustin Hoffman is who steals the show. Hoffman gave one of the best performances in his entire career. Actually, I will put his performance in Wag the Dog right after the performance that made him a household name in The Graduate. But let's put that off till I watch Rain Man. Woody Harrelson also has a small role in this movie, and although his character in not very interesting, especially because it was in the weakest part of the movie when it dragged a little bit, Harrelson's impeccable performance is not to blame.

Every single subtle trick in Wag the Dog makes you burst out laughing. And the movie takes advantage of all these tricks and small details until the credits roll. It never wastes any clever joke that made you laugh, and uses it again in a more clever way to make you laugh over it again and again.

Barry Levinson's direction is so smart, clever and slick. He made the movie fast-paced and that was a good decision, but I think he could have concentrated on the funniest moments in the movie to make them more pleasant, and to make them memorable not only funny. I have kinda the same issue with one of my all-time favorite movies, The Graduate. (I think Mike Nichols should have focused on the drama more than he did.)

The political commentary was a little on-the-nose at first but Barry Levinson's wit direction outweighed this little issue from the beginning. And the result is one of, if not the funniest political satire movie I've ever seen.

April 22, 2018
Wag the dog wag my top
½ April 12, 2018
'wag the dog' doesn't adhere entirely as a film; but witty, rapid-fire dialogue and a painfully engaging premise is potent on a purely entertainment level.
½ March 14, 2017
A dark comedy with some cunningness and cleverness.
January 15, 2017
ZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Very, very boring political comedy (?) where the president's hired guns must fictionalize a war in order to save him from scandal. So they hire oddball Dustin Hoffman, ever optimistic, to produce the faux war with Albania. Supposed hilarity ensues when fictional war hero Woody Harrelson turns out to be a crazed rapist who is killed in, again, a supposedly funny moment of enraged-father-kills-rapist. And this helps their case for whatever reason. Supposedly. I didn't like this movie when I saw it as a teenager, and I don't like it now. Despite the star-studded cast, don't waste your time watching Wag the Dog.
½ November 14, 2016
- Definitely one of my all-time favorite comedies, I've seen it more times than I can remember. The script from David Mamet is sharp and funny and the performances are great. Dustin Hoffman absolutely shines in this, doing an impression of his friend Robert Evans a film producer putting on a scam "War" to help the current president distract from a controversy just 11 days before the election for his 2nd term. It makes me laugh every time I watch it!

- One of my all-time favourite comedies. I have seen it more times than I can count and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it again. The movie was definitely ahead of its time. Hoffman gives an outstanding performance emulating hid friend and great Producer Robert Evans. this film is a must watch!
½ September 25, 2016
"This is nothing. What are you talking about?" This is a very clever film. Barry Levinson out did himself on this one and the cast is superb. A great parody of American politics.
I've been a fan of Levinson's work since the 90's with his critically-acclaimed "Homicide: Life On The Street" and films like "Bugsy", "Sphere", "Good Morning Vietnam," etc. There's a great dynamic interplay between Hoffman and DeNiro.
½ July 8, 2016
Despite it being a comedy, there's something rather scary about Wag the Dog. A sort of Dr. Strangelove-esque satire mixed with a comedic behind-the-scenes look at the filmmaking process, Barry Levinson's film clearly isn't meant to be taken too seriously, but is oddly truthful in many regards. It's strangely plausible that politicians would be willing to go through such convoluted means of propaganda to secure their spot in an election (or secure someone else's loss), and in that regard, this satire is truly hard-hitting. Of course, it's a comedy first and foremost, and like Dr. Strangelove, it manages to deliver numerous memorable moments with a kind of subtlety that really strengthens them. Perhaps the film overstay its welcome as the third act devolves into bonkers territory, but it's mostly engaging and moves at a nice pace. Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro lead the show with charismatic and entertaining performances: any scenes where they get to interact and bounce off one another's jokes are some of the finest in the film. The likes of Anne Heche, Willie Nelson, Kirsten Dunst, and William H. Macy round out the cast, and each have memorable moments of their own. It's an underrated little film, and anyone who finds the premise interesting and enjoys this satirical sense of humor entertaining will surely get a kick out of Wag the Dog.
July 1, 2016
Smart political comedy with cool performances.
May 22, 2016
Great movie, really good acting
May 4, 2016
Phenomenally cynical and clever
February 4, 2016
I'm actually surprised I never saw this film considering the amazing cast and the humorous concept. For those who are unfamiliar with Wag the Dog, it is about a political spin doctor who is brought in to help the president avoid a scandal. The particular event of impropriety is so bad that they decide a big distraction is necessary, so they call in a movie producer to help them stage news footage that will simulate a war. Now this movie is from the days when DeNiro was still trying instead of simply cashing paychecks, so he's really doing good work with his characterization. There are also a large number of other big names you'd recognize who add to the humor. But the big highlight of this film is Dustin Hoffman as an over-the-top film producer. I love how he talks about every problem as if it was insignificant and then compares it to issues he had when filming movies in the past. I also thought it was fun that, while everything that is happening in the movie revolves around the president, they never show his face on screen. I really do think the concept of Wag the Dog is humorous, yet it rang a little too true and I wasn't laughing like I expected. I'm not a big fan of politics anyways, and I'm pretty much fed up with this election year already, so watching a film about manipulating voters wasn't enjoyable for me. Still, I see the genius in the concept and I can totally see why some people would find this to be a ton of fun.
½ January 31, 2016
A satire on the way that spin doctors feed lies to the public to win elections. I'm sure that, despite how unrealistic this story seems, it's probably been overshadowed in reality. Still, it all seemed a bit annoyingly blase. Had some funny moments but I was irked by Dustin Hoffman's character, this sort of role doesn't suit a man of his talents.
½ October 21, 2015
A political satire that lives well inside the genre's limitations. Amazing how a movie with such an interesting premise can be so typical.
½ August 15, 2015
Barry Levinson's "Wag The Dog," is surprisingly very good. It's when the politics of Washington meets Hollywood. Robert DeNiro does very fine work as a government official who hires movie producer Dustin Hoffman, (Who is excellent in this movie and really keeps the movie going), to produce a fake war against Albania, after the president is accused of cornering and having sexual contact with a 13 year old. DeNiro has obviously been sent in to cover up the story so in order to do that and assure the president gets re-elected come election time, that's when Dustin Hoffman comes into play to produce a fake war in order to maintain the president's legacy. Anne Heche also does good work here as the president's aid and DeNiro's adviser while they produce this fake war. Most people might tune out after the first 30 minutes once the realize the political tactics attached to this movie, but I got to say it's not bad, and a very a nice approach by Barry Levinson. For me though, the movie doesn't really earn it's rating until Woody Harrelson makes a small appearance as a soldier who is also a military convict, who is used as a fake prisoner from the fake Albanian war that America is pretending to be involved in. Woody Harrelson really gives the movie it's ultimate push, as he is truly comical in the role, as he has proven from time to time in such movies as "Kingpin," and "Zombieland," but in "Wag The Dog," you really see that Woody Harrelson has a natural talent for comedy. After all, the man has also proven what a serious dramatic talent he is too in movies like "The Messenger," even though he has some comedic parts in the movie, it's still a very serious movie and he does also in that movie for which he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his work, he does also have some very good dramatic moments in the film. But we also cannot forget his performance along side Matthew McConaughey in HBO's "True Detective," as Harrelson along with McConaughey have definitely given us the best cop duo in ages! I truly believe without Woody's comedic trun in this movie, it would have been just another political black satire, even though that's what it clearly is, but there's something about Woody Harrelson and Dustin Hoffman's performance that makes it worth watching and that is because believe it or not, this stuff does probably actually happen. I wouldn't dismiss it, as our government as proven and shown time and time again that anything is possible with Washington, anything! But "Wag The Dod," definitely deserves a look as it truly is in the hands of Barry Levinson, who truly has shown in the past with movies like "Rain Man," and "Sleepers," that he is in full control of his movies, and is a very well proficient director, who any actor would be a fool to not sign up for one of his movies in my opinion. Other than those key factors in the movie, it's really a movie you have to decide for yourself whether it's for you or not, but I advise all movie lovers like me, to hang in there and go with the flow as there are some suprising and funny moments from Dustin Hoffman as the movie producer, who really plays his role perfectly that as a big Hollywood A-lister himself, I'm sure he has had his fair share of all types of movie producers, so I wouldn't be surprised him Hoffman's performance was based on one or several movie producer's he has worked with throughout his career. Check it out, see what you think, but if I can make one suggestion it's this, stay with Dustin Hoffman once he shows up on screen, as he truly proves why he really is such a natural talent, and really one of the greatest actors that will ever live.
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