Wag the Dog
Time Out saysA sex scandal is about to break around the President, threatening to derail his re-election bandwagon less than two weeks before polling day. Veteran Conrad Brean (De Niro) quickly formulates a rescue policy: to deflect public attention, the US will go to war. Not in real life, but where it matters, on America's TV screens. He co-opts veteran Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Hoffman) and they thrash out the details: the rumours and denials of military mobilisation, the video footage of terrified refugees, the rousing patriotic anthem. And the venue? How about Albania. Adapted from Larry Beinhart's novel American Hero by Hilary Henkin and David Mamet, this is intended as an airy semi-political comedy. 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. In short, a telling symptom of the malaise of mainstream American cinema - once capable of producing such taut political thrillers as The Candidate and The Parallax View.