Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Cast: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Alfred Molina, Christopher Abbott, Nicholas Braun
Release Date: March 4th, 2016
Based on Kim Barker’s nonfiction book The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, viagra the new film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot explores a difficult subject. The film is a dramedy about a reporter who is stationed in the midst of a war zone.
As a comedy, sick the feature isn’t laugh-out-loud funny but the filmmakers seem to be aiming for a greater goal here: relevance.
Tina Fey stars as the main character (the character’s name has oddly been changed to Kim Baker).Baker is a writer for a New York news program but when the opportunity arises, online she travels to Afghanistan as a wartime correspondent. She had been looking for a way to explore a new environment and she finds a sense of meaning and purpose in the midst of the war-torn country.
“This is a forgotten war,” a soldier tells her and she eventually gets the message. In New York, where she was dating a bland guy named Chris (Josh Charles), she wasn’t really inspired or interested in anything big (she notes in one great scene that after years of exercising on the treadmill, she realized that she’d been moving backwards literally and figuratively).
A trip to cover the “forgotten war” might seem like an odd venture for the reporter to take on but the dramedy makes sense of the situation by really showing how the country affects Baker and makes her care more about life and good reporting than she seemingly did before.
On the surface, the story is about Baker’s position but it’s also packed with biting commentary and an honest critique of the lack of war coverage in the mainstream American media. The film never goes for big outlandish laughs that would make the situation into a caricature. Instead, it finds humor in Baker’s everyday life.
There’s humor in how she’s treated in the larger cities (after putting on a headscarf, she notes “I’m so pretty I don’t even want to vote”) and there’s humor in the way that an elected official— who notes how religious he is — tries to manipulate her into bed (“I am a friend of America,” he says, as if that means she should accept his proposal).
The supporting cast here play their roles admirably, especially Billy Bob Thornton and Christopher Abbott. Thornton appears as General Hollanek, a tough but realistic general who recognizes the disorder in the Middle East and who assists Baker while trying to make sure that her job doesn’t interfere with his. “I don’t care if you can do your job,” he says to her, “I care if my men can.”
Abbott, who just did tremendous work in James White (2015), is nearly unrecognizable here as Baker’s Afghani guide. His character is a multi-dimensional supporting player who wants to assist Baker but who also knows the dangerous situation she’s found herself in.
She may find absurdities surrounding her but there’s a lot of danger as well, a fact that she’s often underestimating.
The screenplay by Robert Carlock, who previously wrote episodes of Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (a comedy he co-created), offers a fully-realized portrait of Baker’s work while relishing some of the weird situations she encounters. Its greatest asset though may be its palpable sense of restraint. With Fey as the star and Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels serving as a producer, it seems like this film could have settled for becoming a mundane comedy.
Instead, they use this opportunity to offer a sharp dramedy that explores both the everyday absurdities of being a war correspondent and the serious drama that comes with the position.
Review by: John Hanlon