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WAG THE DOG

By admin | December 15, 1997

Dustin Hoffman seems to have become the quintessential actor for films where the satirical forum is to expose the media as a manipulative tool. Following the very mediocre “Mad City,” where he played a reporter trying to jump start his sagging career by igniting a hostage situation, Hoffman rekindles his suave cynicism as a hotshot Hollywood producer who is called upon by Robert DeNiro’s omnipotent Presidential spin doctor to squelch a potentially ugly public relations backlash on the eve of reelection. It turns out that the Pres, got caught in a girl scout’s panties and now with his popularity falling, his shoe-in, second term is in jeopardy. To divert the public’s attention and to angle the President back into the White House, DeNiro and Hoffman hatch a plot to stage a fake war with Albania. After all politics is show business. But like “Mad City,” “Wag the Dog” is so close to the “real thing” that, beyond a couple of hilarious zingers, its impact feels smug and minor. Hoffman’s electric performance carries the film beyond its banal pretext and Dennis Leary and Woody Harrelson are a scream in cameos.

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