Thursday, January 03, 2008

Charlie Wilson's War

The true story of Charlie Wilson is a fascinating one. Too bad Tom Hanks was cast in the role because then he had to become a saint. This movie is really stupid. The lovable Hanks can't be seen doing coke, saying bad things, or actually doing anything bad. As Mitch pointed out after the movie, anything obnoxious that he did or said was mentioned by another character rather than Hanks thus keeping him lovably charming. Even his womanizing is more of a "Golly gee, isn't Tom Hanks cute" kind of thing.

I know a lot of people who have been down on Tom Hanks for years. I never really was. But count me in now. But then again, is it really Hanks' fault that Aaron Sorkin and Mike Nichols felt like they had to take the fascinating, multifaceted true story of a womanizing, coke sniffing congressmen who led a secret operation to fund the Mujahideen and turn it into a Tom Hanks - Julia Roberts vehicle.

Mitch sums this up quite well with this zinger he e-mailed me, "The entire movie was dumbed down and spelled out to make it appeal to the 'average' Americans who love Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks yet are apparently too stupid to comprehend an average episode of The West Wing."

To that effect, we all knew we were in trouble within the first five minutes when Hanks is in a hot tub with some nekkid beauty queens (Don't worry Tom didn't ever touch them or look down or anything) but gets distracted by a television broadcasting Dan Rather's report from Afghanistan on the Mujahideen. The dialogue is painful as one woman pleads the fun loving Hanks to stop watching TV.

It went something like this: But darling, don't you know the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and the freedom fighters are called the Mujahideen pronounced mu-jahi-deen. Dan Rather who is a newsman is wearing that funny hat on his head because he must ... be ... in Afghanistan! Honey, this is big news. I want to hear what he has to say! Barkeep, could you kindly turn that television volume up? Why thank you sir! Anyway, as I was saying, the Soviet Union is our number one enemy honey. We are in a thing called the Cold War. Pronounced cold ... war. Anyway darling, this war could be our chance to really stick it to the Russkies! A war is when two governments can't solve their differences using just words. Anyway, darling where was I? I'd really like to ogle your breasts right now but that wouldn't be becoming for a two-time Oscar winner, now would it?

Philip Seymour Hoffman was great though.

Directed by Mike Nichols
Kips Bay


mas said...

Just to clarify, it's not me who thinks that Americans don't understand that stuff - I was bothered by the fact that the filmmakers seemed to expect that the audience wouldn't understand it.

crispin said...

Why weren't you sour on Tom Hanks already? What has he done in the last 10 years worth a good goddamn?

Listmaker said...

oh yeah - sorry mitch - i should have made that more clear.

crispin - off the top of my head - saving private ryan - producing band of brothers and i kind of liked most of castaway and didn't hate the terminal. at least he didn't ruin those movies. he didn't even ruin this movie. the choice to cast him and go the safe route from the beginning was the problem.

Listmaker said...

another thing i forgot to mention - the film takes place over like an 8 year period or something but we have no idea when things are happening because we are never told. lame. it felt like it all took place over a two month or so period.

caubain said...

While I agree that the movie did "dumb down" the historical events to make them palatable for the masses, I think your a little too critical. yes it is a flawed film....there is clearly no chemistry between Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks (what is up with them grabbing eachothers asses....they are supposed to be lovers not teammates)....but this film didn't set out to be a documentary of Charlie Wilson...I really think their true intention was just to entertain. That is why it started with that stupid scene in the hot tub....not in afghanistan. It is supposed to be fun...and I have to admit I was entertained. I found Mr. Hoffman hysterical, Tom Hanks quite charming, and Julia Roberts was ok....I agree not a great movie, but not a horrible one....
and Tom Hanks has made many good films...castaway was great, i loved Apollo 13....saving private ryan....he's a good actor...

Listmaker said...

i think you can be entertained as well as it being interesting. i just think they were so caught in trying to make a "mainstream" film that it skimped on the facts AND on the entertainment.

i wanted more hot tub stuff - more decadence! i wanted to be entertained and instead i was bored!

i also was defending hanks. never seen apollo 13 but then again i was also trying to limit myself to the last 10 years per crispin's request. i think that movie was 96 if not a bit earlier?