Wag The Dog

1997, Movie, R, 105 mins

Review

WAG THE DOG
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This satirical dish mixes together two of America's most influential constituencies -- the overlapping power elites of Washington and Hollywood -- into a substantial but easily digested meal. There's a nasty scandal a-brewing when, two weeks before he goes up for reelection, the President (whose face is never seen) is accused of molesting a young visitor to the White House. Quicker than you can say Barbara Walters Special, veteran spinmeister Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro) is brought in to coordinate White House damage-control efforts. In collaboration with uptight White House aide Winifred Ames (Anne Heche) and semiretired Hollywood egomaniac Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman), Brean concocts an unlikely international incident -- involving Albania, of all places -- designed to put the media off the real "news." Hoffman's performance as the deeply tanned, thoroughly self-satisfied Hollywood producer (shades of Robert Evans, perhaps?) is delightful, as is guest star Willie Nelson's riff on his own sanctimonious Farm Aid munificence. But anyone who would be inherently interested in this kind of sendup is unlikely to be surprised by anything in this film -- overall it feels like a trifle, if an entertaining one. leave a comment --Sandra Contreras

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