Wag the Dog

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"A comedy about truth, justice and other special effects."
  • R
  • 1997
  • 1 hr 37 min
  • 7.1  (87,317)
  • 73

The movie "Wag the Dog" from 1997 is a satirical film directed by Barry Levinson. This political comedy-drama stars Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, and Anne Heche, and was released just before the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, which made the movie's content a little too real. The story begins with the reelection campaign of the United States President, where the media mogul Conrad Brean (De Niro) is hired by the president's team to deflect media attention from a sex scandal that could cost him his re-election. Brean is a legendary spin-doctor, and when he finds out that the President has made a grave mistake, he uses his unique talents to try and cover it up.

Brean is called in to deal with an imminent crisis during the President's re-election campaign when he is spun into a scandal. After a troubleshooter from the presidential campaign pays a visit to Mr. Brean, the political strategist kicks into overdrive. Brean and his team develop a plan to produce and fabricate a war that will shift the focus of the media and the American public away from the President's sex scandal.

Brean connects with Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Hoffman), and they start working on a fake war. Motss specializes in creating television commercials, but has never tackled anything as vast as a war. Together, they create and fabricate the war and the hero, "Old Shoe," who is supposed to be a hero that will save America. They involve the support of the media, with the help of a white-knuckled news producer, Liz (Heche), who is given a rare opportunity to witness the creation of a massive media event that goes beyond politics.

The duo stages the entire production, fabricating news and events to sway public opinion. They shoot fake footage in a studio, and tackle a range of complicated issues such as selecting a fake war song to tug at heartstrings, selecting the right actor to play the soldier, and fudging the country's past military history to add authenticity to their fabricated war. The team even has to convince Washington's most influential journalists that the war in Albania is real and that the American people must support their armed forces.

"Wag the Dog" is inspired by the book American Hero by Larry Beinhart, and the movie is a clever satire on the notion of political spin and how easily the public can be manipulated. The movie shows how a made-up story or an incident can be leveraged to distract public attention, and how the powerful minds can manipulate the media and public opinion, all the while making sure that the truth is kept hidden.

Some critics of the film saw the phrase "wag the dog" as a premonition of the Clinton scandal, where the President used a military strike against Iraq and weapons inspectors to divert attention from his own sexual misconduct.

Hoffman's portrayal as Stanley Motss is a particular highlight of the film, with his Hollywood tycoon able to manipulate the media and produce the events to produce the perfect lie to be sold to the American public. The movie's dialogue and storytelling are also impressive, with a lot of black comedy to keep the audience engrossed.

The film is ultimately a great satire that raises questions about the role of media in the modern world, and the way that those in power can manipulate the people. It's a dark and powerful film that offers a unique view of American politics and its dark underbelly. "Wag the Dog" is a thought-provoking and entertaining movie that is worth watching for anybody interested in politics or satire.

Wag the Dog is a 1997 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 37 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.1 and a MetaScore of 73.

Wag the Dog
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Where to Watch Wag the Dog
Wag the Dog is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Wag the Dog for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
    1997
  • MPAA Rating
    R
  • Runtime
    1 hr 37 min
  • Language
    English
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (87,317)
  • Metascore
    73