Wag the Dog - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Wag the Dog Reviews

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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.
½ August 3, 2015
I did lol. Cried lolling at the song. Elsewhere, lacking.
½ July 25, 2015
Somehow both more exacting and more straightforward than most films, and certainly more clever and cutting than most comedies, while still being delightfully funny.
½ July 10, 2015
Fine performances and the intelligent direction all help in bringing the clever, unnervingly perceptive political ideas to the screen.
June 5, 2015
Happening right now. Prophetic.
½ May 30, 2015
Very entertaining. Not sure this movie would have been nearly as good without the cast. Hoffman was awesome.
½ May 12, 2015
Smart and funny satire that of course is well acted.
April 27, 2015
Stylish, smart, and hilarious, #wagthedog is a poignant film about politics in America and a great showcase for DeNiro, Hoffman, and Mamet.
March 30, 2015
War is show business.

The president is involved in a sex scandal just before his re-election campaign. A spin-doctor is hired to cover up the mess and help the president get re-elected. He decides to work with a Hollywood producer to create news stories, coverage, and interviews to make it look like we are at war. As the fake war unfolds, the producer gets antsy to receive credit for his work with the spin-doctor tries to keep the story under wraps as those in the know reveal themselves as well.

"A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow."

Barry Levinson, director of Good Morning, Vietnam; Rain Man; The Natural; Sleepers; Bugsy; Man of the Year; Disclosure; Envy; an dYou Don't Know Jack, delivers Wag the Dog. The storyline for this picture was just okay and reminded me of a less intense Argo. The script was fairly well written and the acting was very good. The cast includes Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Denis Leary, Willie Nelson, Kirsten Dunst, Woody Harrelson, and Andrea Martin.

"Of course it's real. It's on TV."

Wag the Dog is a movie I was never really that interested to see, but decided to give a shot when I came across it on HBOGO. It was as I expected, similar to Be Cool, a nice group of actors and a silly plotline. The cast does deliver their characters well and they are fun to see in their element, but the overall film is just okay. I recommend seeing this once, but I wouldn't pay to see this picture.

"You want me to produce a war?"

Grade: C+
February 10, 2015
Not your traditional Hollywood movie, in large part because of the extremely fast shooting schedule and interesting techniques used to cut corners and save time. It was literally filmed inbetween a shooting delay of the movie "Sphere" which was also directed by Levinson and starred Hoffman. A lot to learn from this movie, but it's also just a smart black comedy with great performances from De Niro & Co.
½ January 22, 2015
Loved every minute. Nothing short of great.
January 6, 2015
Very intelligent writing, great acting and super interesting camera work, just bogged down by less than stellar lighting and too much story crammed into only 97 minutes of screentime.
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