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Festivale online magazine, March, 1998
Wag the Dog movie review
A Hollywood producer. A Washington spin-doctor. When they get together, they can make you believe anything. A comedy about truth, justice and other special effects.

Wag the Dog

Wag the Dog is a movie for all those people who believe that the moon landing was done with Gerry Andersons supermarionation, and that the news is all one big conspiracy.

movie poster, Wag the Dog, festivale film review
movie poster, Wag the Dog, Festivale film review

Why does a dog wag its tail? Because a dog is smarter than its tail.
If the tail was smarter, the tail would wag the dog.

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Deep in the bowels of the White House, in one of those bug proof rooms designed for national and international emergencies a meeting is taking place. Something is very wrong, eleven short days before the election, and the incumbent president needs help. The man in the crumpled hat is the spin doctor, the master of misdirection, Mr Fixit (Robert DeNiro).

The national emergency is the stolen three minutes plus the president spent in the little office behind the oval office with a teenable Firefly girl (a sort of girl scout in a very familiar beret). Okay, it had to happen, Clinton has been dogged with claims of sexual harassment for some years now, not just affairs, but for the kind of sexual harassment that is just plain bullying. This and Primary Colours are two examples of the topic reaching the big screen.

Wag the Dog is a very clever political satire, which has a few spare moments to take a crack at contemporary film-makers and their incestuous relationships with retailers through the fad kings. Quite possibly the cleverest American satire I've ever seen, it stands up against the very best of the British masters for its timing, wit, characterisations and performances.

Of course, putting Suzie Plakson or Ed Harris in a film is pretty sure to get it a warm reception at Festivale anyway. Suzie P. has a small but interesting role as the offsider to the Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman).

Don't waste any more time reading the reviews -- go out a see it. Put a little aside to buy it, because this is a keeper.

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Other films about presidential misconduct, etc in the last couple of years include: Absolute Power; Primary Colors; Other films with Robert DeNiro include Great Expectations

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Just the facts:

Title: Wag the Dog (1997)
Written by:  based on the novel American Hero by Larry Beinhart; screenplay by Hilary Henkin and David Mamet 
Directed by: Barry Levinson
Produced by: Michael De Luca (executive); Robert De Niro; Barry Levinson; Claire Rudnick Polstein (executive); Jane Rosenthal; Ezra Swerdlow (executive)
Edited by: Stu Linder 
Director of Photography: Robert Richardson

The Players: Dustin Hoffman.... Stanley Motss;
Robert De Niro.... Conrad Brean;
Anne Heche.... Winifred Ames;
Denis Leary.... Fad King;
Willie Nelson.... Johnny Green;
Andrea Martin.... Liz Butsky;
Kirsten Dunst.... Tracy Lime;
William H. Macy.... Mr. Young;
Craig T. Nelson.... Senator Neal;
Suzie Plakson
Official website
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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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: Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia : copyright © Festivale 1998 All rights reserved
Filed: 3-Mar-1998 : Last updated: 6-Mar-1998 : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
Entire site refreshed: Dec 2008-Feb 2009 | Site URL transferred: Jan 2005 (previously www.festivale.webcentral.com.au)

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