Owen Gleiberman
January 23, 1998 AT 05:00 AM EST

Wag the Dog

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Robert De Niro, Woody Harrelson, Anne Heche, Dustin Hoffman, Mark Knopfler, Kirsten Dunst
director
Barry Levinson
genre
Drama, Comedy

We gave it an B

WAG THE DOG (R) A very classy act of nose thumbing. When the President is accused of dallying with an underage girl, his spin-control guru (Robert De Niro) calls in a veteran Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman). Using the media as their stage, they create a ”war” between the U.S. and Albania. Director Barry Levinson and coscreenwriter David Mamet have, of course, taken off on the packaging of the Persian Gulf war. If the result is often as glib as the targets it’s satirizing, it’s also driven by a cruelly distilled joy. Wag the Dog is an ode to the thrill of deception, a thrill embodied in Hoffman’s inspired performance. A- (#414, Jan. 16)

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