Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Disappointing but Funny: Charlie Wilson's War

Charlie Wilson's War (Advance Screening)
Directed by Mike Nichols
To be released December 25, 2007

This odd film about a congressman working to help Afghanistan fight back against the Soviet Union is not a complete misfire, but with the team involved, it really should have been better. The biggest problem throughout the film is that it presents itself as a goofy, aloof dramatization yet it splices in extremely serious issues and the general plot of the film involves helping a repressed people being slaughtered without any hope of defense. This imbalance makes for an often hilarious but not quite satisfying experience. The direction and editing are off a bit, and the script by "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin is not as sharp and quick as it should be (though all the actors do talk very fast). Stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts are fine, but this is by no means an Oscar comeback for either of them (thought their pedigrees and awards history do not discount them completely). Hanks is not quite right for the role, as he is too inherently likeable to seem sleazy and womanizing. Roberts has a small role and her accent is a bit much. Philip Seymour Hoffman, on the other hand, is terrific in his supporting role as a sarcastic, deadpan CIA agent. His role, like the film, is often unexpectedly more serious and he does not have much to do in that case. I think this film may do well with the Golden Globes, but I have removed it from my Oscar predictions with the exception of Hoffman, who I think may make it in due to lack of competition. There is always the chance that this likeable cast and crew might be well-received by audiences and awards groups, but I, for one, am a bit let down.


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