Wag The Dog
Directed by:Barry Levinson
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Denis Leary, Anne Heche, Willy Nelson, William H. Macy and Woody Harrelson

An extraordinary satirical look at a presidential sex scandal. Wonderful performances and an all around tour de force for director Barry Levinson.

The President of the United States is caught having sex with a young girl, a scandal ensues. Spin doctor Conrad Breen(De Niro) is hired to solve the problem and to heal the President's reputation. In order to do this a war must be staged, but how? Enter Stanley Motss(Hoffman), a big time Hollywood producer. He is convinced by Breen and associates to create a war. Now the dilemma is with what country...Albania.

Now I don't want to ruin it, because this film is one of the most memorable of the past ten years. It is witty, sly and a very intelligent comedy. Rent it, buy it, just watch it if you haven't already, it is a good one.

BREAN
What's the thing people remember about the Gulf War?
A bomb falling down a chimney. Let me tell you something:
I was in the building where we filmed that with a 10-inch model made out of Legos.

MOTSS
Is that true?

BREAN
Who the hell's to say?

I watched Wag the Dog again last night, and I´m thinking how incredibly forward looking this film truly was. Made in 1997, Wag the Dog was considered Prophetic in light of the Monica Lewinski and subsequent Iraq bombings, but take another look at it now.

Remember the scene when DeNiro (Breen) and Anne Heche (Ames) are taken in by the CIA? Remember the dialog about the war of the future with CIA agent Mr. Young?

BREAN
Why do people go to war?

MR. YOUNG
Why do people go to war?

MR. YOUNG
I'll play your silly game.

BREAN
Why do they go to War?

MR. YOUNG
To preserve their Way of Life.

BREAN
Would you go to War to do that?
(PAUSE)

MR. YOUNG
I have.

BREAN
Well, I have, too. Would you do it again...? In't that why you're here? I guess so. N'if you go to war again, who is it going to be against? Your "ability to fight a Two-ocean War " against who? Sweden and Togo? Who you sitting here to Go To War Against? That time has passed. It's passed. It's over.
The War of the Future is Nuclear Terrorism. It is and it will be against a Small Group of Dissidents who, unbeknownst, perhaps, to their own governments, have blah blah blah. And to go to that war, you've got to be prepared. You have to be alert, and the public has to be alert. Cause that is the war of the future, and if you're not gearing up, to fight that war, eventually the axe will fall. N'you're gonna be out in the street.

(PAUSE)

And you can call this a "drill," or you can call it "job security," or you can call it anything you like. But I got one for you: you said, "Go to War to protect your Way of Life," well, Chuck, this

(HE GESTURES AROUND THE ROOM)

is your way of life. Innit? And if there ain't no war, you can punch out, go home, and take up Oil Painting.
And there ain't no war but ours.


Prophetic.


Watching it again makes me wonder, wonder, wonder about September 11, 2001. Makes me wonder about the cynical manner of American politics. Makes me wonder what the hell really happened that day in NYC.

This is a great film. Go out and rent it and watch it again now that America is fighting a War on Terrorism. Go. NOW!



Cast
Dustin Hoffman .... Stanley.R Motss
Robert De Niro .... Conrad Brean
Anne Heche .... Winifred Ames
Denis Leary .... Fad King
Willie Nelson .... Johnny Dean
Andrea Martin .... Liz Butsky
Kirsten Dunst .... Tracy Lime
William H. Macy .... CIA Agent Mr. Young
John Michael Higgins .... John Levy
Suzie Plakson .... Grace
Woody Harrelson .... Sgt. William Schumann
Roebuck 'Pops' Staples .... Himself (as Pops Staples)
Jay Leno .... Himself
Merle Haggard .... Himself
James Belushi .... Himself (as Jim Belushi)
Drena De Niro .... Gate Stewardess

Robert De Niro .... producer
Barry Levinson .... producer

Original music by
Tom Bähler
Mark Knopfler

Screenplay by:
Hilary Henkin
David Mamet



Trivia:
"why change horses midstream" was originally a campaign slogan for Abe Lincoln during the civil war.

The political talk show at the end of the film lists its phone number as (1-800) 555-0199. This number is also Lester Burnham's office number in American Beauty as well as Lowell Bergman's fax number in the film The Insider.


sources:
http://us.imdb.com/Trivia?0120885
http://homepages.ihug.com.au/~lontano/scriptsa/wag-the-dog_production.html

Spoilers contained herein. Damn interesting spoilers, but spoilers nonetheless.


Q: Why does a dog wag its tail?
A: Because a dog is smarter than its tail. If the tail were smarter, the tail would wag the dog.



The third time I watched this movie I realised something about it that made it one of my top five movies of all time.

At the end of the movie Breen orders the CIA to eliminate Motss - he was warned, after all. I never liked the idea of Motss being rubbed out. It didn't fit with the rest of the movie. But the third time through the movie it hit me: we don't know if he's dead. The only images we have of his funeral are limos in front of his mansion, and we hear a news blurb. Given the theme of the movie, that the media creates reality more effectively than reality does, it fits that Breen faked Motss' death. For all we know he's locked up in a looney-bin somewhere - if the media reports that he died it doesn't really matter if he actually did or not.

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