Wag the Dog


Wag the Dog

Critics Consensus

Smart, well-acted, and uncomfortably prescient political satire from director Barry Levinson and and all-star cast.



Total Count: 74


Audience Score

User Ratings: 44,546
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Wag the Dog Photos

Movie Info

This political satire seems to almost predict the events in the Clinton sex scandal. After the President is caught with a Girl Scout, he hires a Hollywood producer to create a fake war and bring home a fictionalized war-hero to gain support. Problems arise when the insane war-hero dies.

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Dustin Hoffman
as Stanley Motss
Robert De Niro
as Conrad Brean
Anne Heche
as Winifred Ames
Denis Leary
as Fad King
Woody Harrelson
as Sgt. William Schumann
Willie Nelson
as Johnny Green
Andrea Martin
as Liz Butsky
Michael Belson
as President
Suzanne Cryer
as Amy Cain
Kirsten Dunst
as Tracy Lime
William H. Macy
as Mr. Young
Craig T. Nelson
as Senator Neal
Harland Williams
as Pet Wrangler
Sean Masterson
as Bob Richardson
Bernard Hocke
as Technician
Maurice Woods
as Kid With Shoes
Pops Staples
as Himself
Phil Morris
as Co-Pilot
Chris Ellis
as Officer
Jennifer Manley
as Teenage Girl
Richard Lawson
as Young Man/CIA
Drena De Niro
as Gate Stewardess
Alberto Vasquez
as Combine Driver
Stephanie Kemp
as Aide No. 1
Jack Esformes
as Aide No. 2
John Cho
as Aide No. 3
Brant Cotton
as Sharon's Boyfriend
Kenneth Kern
as Nashville Engineer
Ron McCoy
as Limo Driver
Derrick Morgan
as CIA Agent
Garry R. Roleder
as USAF Chaplain
Jim Belushi
as Himself
George Gaynes
as Senator Nole
Rick Scarry
as White House Reporter
Furley Lumpkin
as Raking Dad No. 1
Sean Fenton
as Raking Dad No. 2
John Franklin
as Jockey No. 1
Kevin Furlong
as Jockey No. 2
Lu Elrod
as Southern Woman
Michael Villani
as Male Commentator
Warren Wilson
as Crossfire Interviewer
Terry Anzur
as Female Announcer No. 3
Melissa Gardner
as Chris Andrews Reporter
Giselle Fernandez
as Female Press Person
Christine Devine
as Chicago Newscaster
Richard Saxton
as Chicago Newscaster No. 2
Geffrey Blake
as Media Guy No. 1
Jerry Levine
as Media Guy No. 2
Jack Shearer
as Sklansky
Emmett Miller
as News Break Reporter
Bill Handel
as Reporter No. 7
Arlene Afshangol
as Albanian Girl
Hope Garber
as Albanian Grandmother
Gina Menza
as Press Room Reporter
Maggie Mellin
as Mrs. Rose
Tom Murray
as Aircraft Carrier Reporter
Shirley Prestia
as Moderator Named Shirley
Ralph Tabakin
as Southern Man
Marguerite Moreau
as Teenage Girl in Audience
Jay Leno
as Himself
Nicole Avant
as `American Dream' Singer
Tom Bahler
as `American Dream' Singer
Michael Allen Carter
as `American Dream' Singer
Carmen Carter
as `American Dream' Singer
Lance Eaton
as `American Dream' Singer
Karen Geraghty
as `American Dream' Singer
Jim Gilstrap
as `American Dream' Singer
Jennifer Gross
as `American Dream' Singer
Wendy Lou Halvorsen
as `American Dream' Singer
Anthony Holiday
as `American Dream' Singer
Brad Kalas
as `American Dream' Singer
Billy Trudel
as `American Dream' Singer
Mark Vieha
as `American Dream' Singer
Julia Waters
as `American Dream' Singer
Oren Waters
as `American Dream' Singer
Maxine Waters
as `American Dream' Singer
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News & Interviews for Wag the Dog

Critic Reviews for Wag the Dog

All Critics (74) | Top Critics (19) | Fresh (63) | Rotten (11)

  • Hilary Henkin and David Mamet's script is gleefully hyperbolic without ever straying from its political target.

    Mar 30, 2009 | Full Review…
  • Lazily assembled by director Levinson, it slides into a series of soft, extended skits on engineering a media war, not helped by several badly handled leaps in the story.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Amusing as it is, Wag The Dog does what it purports to sat irize -- the bark is real but the teeth aren't.

    Apr 12, 2002 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • A wicked smart satire on the interlocking worlds of politics and show business, Wag the Dog confirms every awful thought you've ever had about media manipulation and the gullibility of the American public.

    Feb 14, 2001 | Full Review…
  • The pacing is crisp, the dialogue quippy and fast, the tone arch but energetic.

    Feb 14, 2001
  • Wag the Dog nonetheless makes a perfect bookend piece for Network.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4

Audience Reviews for Wag the Dog

  • Apr 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
    Brendan N Super Reviewer
  • May 22, 2014
    Hoffman and De Niro seem to have a contest as to who can bore the other more effectively. This film which could have been an interesting talking point instead becomes a forgettable food note.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 26, 2013
    Wag the Dog is an average dark comedy that relies on a great cast and an effective script. Enjoyable, but could have been better, this film is a bit dull at times and suffers from a so-so script. The idea is good, but the result is a decent film that just touches the surface of what it tries to accomplish. The cast were quite good and they clearly try to elevate film's material. This is a decent affair, but it could have been much better than what it turned out to be. I was really looking forward to seeing this one, but I was slightly let down. I expected a much better film than this and though it has a great cast, it never becomes anything truly worthwhile to rewatch again. With its ideas, Wag the Dog could have been a standout feature, but it just ends up being a so0so movie that never really takes off. I thought that there could have been more effort put into this one, and though it is a decent film, it's also quite dull in places and it should have been better. This may appeal to viewers looking for satire, but there are some elements missing to make it the film that it should have been. Enjoyable, but flawed, Wag the Dog is decent fun with a cast that try their best at making this a film watchable experience. The idea makes this film enjoyable, but simply can't shrug off how could this one could have been otherwise. Wag the Dog is fun, and quite decent, but it could have been much better.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Mar 09, 2013
    Brilliant and well-crafted, Wag the Dog is an inspired and entertaining satire. When the President faces a scandal that could cost him the election he calls in a spin-doctor that decides to concoct a phony war in order to squash the scandal. The cast is excellent, and includes Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Anne Heche, and Denis Leary. The script is also especially good, and is full of witty political satire. Still, there are some cheesy parts and the plot gets a little contrived at times. Wag the Dog has its flaws, but overall it's and an enjoyable and fun look at the audaciousness of politics.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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