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Wag The Dog [VHS] [1998]


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Product details

  • Actors: Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Anne Heche, Denis Leary, Willie Nelson
  • Directors: Barry Levinson
  • Writers: David Mamet, Hilary Henkin, Larry Beinhart
  • Producers: Barry Levinson, Claire Rudnick Polstein, Eric McLeod, Ezra Swerdlow
  • Language: English
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Eiv
  • VHS Release Date: 1 Oct 1999
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CXBR
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 109,401 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

The US President has been caught in a major scandal two weeks before the elections and it is up to White House advisor Ronnie Brean (Robert De Niro) to save his political career. So Breen hires Hollywood producer Stan Moss (Dustin Hoffman) to help divert the country's attention away from the presidential scandal. They come up with a plan to fake a war, complete with photogenic actresses playing vote-winning refugees and rock stars commissioned to record stirring anthems for freedom. The President seems set for re-election on a wave of patriotic fervour, but a Senator is closing in on the truth about the 'phoney war'.

From Amazon.co.uk

Wag the Dog (1997) is a rarity: an intelligent, sophisticated and very funny film about American politics. Just before an election the President--in an uncanny anticipation of real life--gets sexually involved with a young woman, leaving spin-doctor Robert De Niro to think of something quick. He enlists Hollywood producer Dustin Hoffman to help him concoct a war against Albania to take the public's mind off the President's peccadilloes. Both stars are in top form, with Hoffman particularly funny as the larger than life producer. Scripted by David Mamet (House of Games, Glengarry Glen Ross) and directed by Barry Levinson, (whose previous comedies include Good Morning, Vietnam with Robin Williams and Tin Men with Danny De Vito) Wag the Dog manages to make you laugh even while you're thinking about how true the insights are, and how politics is getting more like the media every day.

On the DVD: The so-called platinum DVD is packed with features. There is a series of production shots, assembled in no particular order, some showing the director watching filming on his monitor. There are interview clips with Hoffman, De Niro, Anne Heche, William H Macy and Barry Levinson talking about the film, plus scrolled filmographies. There's an audio commentary on the whole film by Levinson and Hoffman, occasionally rambling but with some interesting insights. In another feature, Macy talks at some length about David Mamet. There are extensive scroll-down production notes giving useful information (such as the film's budget), and finally a 50-minute documentary in which producer Jane Rosenthal talks about the relationship between the film and real-life politics. Her comments are supplemented by such luminaries as writer Budd Schulberg, director John Frankenheimer, newscaster Tom Brokaw and Dee Dee Myers, former White House press secretary. The Dolby Digital soundtrack is good quality, as is the image in 16:9 ratio. --Ed Buscombe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By C. S. Maynard on 13 Feb 2007
Format: DVD
What the last two reviews have failed to grasp is that in terms of American political comedy this is almost alone!

In places you could say that this film is slightly far-fetched, but wait... no, you can't! The spin that we see come out of this country let alone the number one country for media-savvy!

The amazing thing about this film is the premonition that DeNiro's character makes at one point whilst riding in a limo about 'America's next war'. If you want an idea of a worst case scenario for the background operations of an American administration this is the film for you.

I would say that the only thing that could be perceived as being 'unfunny' is the idea that this could be what has happened with the "War on Terror". Watch this film, know what could be happening in "the land of the free".
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By don_wez@lycos.co.uk on 12 Nov 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Personally I thought the film was excellent, although several friends that I've passed it on to found it the comlete opposite.
Its one of those films were you have to listen and watch whats going on or you'll miss it.
CLEVERELY CONSTRUCTED! WELL ACTED!
Probably not too far from the truth!
My personal advice is to rent it before you add it to your collection!
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Interested Reader on 31 Dec 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This is a brilliant film. Its sparkling humour and delightfully paced script render a penetrating insight into the American electoral process.

The film's satirical assessment of media management magnificently brings to light the creeping superficiality of American society.

The acting is no less impressive. De Niro is typically accomplished. And Hoffman delivers a truly exceptional performance - this alone is reason enough to watch the film!

Buy it, and you won't be disappointed!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Nov 2000
Format: DVD
"Wag the dog" gathers a very good cast to tell a clever story about politics and its close connection to the TV business. Although the story sometimes seems to be topped by real-life events (Clinton-Lewinsky) it still remains a very entertaining flick. This is due to the many great characters and its precise dialogue which delivers a whole lot of sharp little comments on the dirty business of politics. To my mind this picture gives aside from all the comedy a very good impression of all those people out there campaigning for whatever they can find. They accepted lies, theft and treachery as part of their daily work, but they would never regard themselves as crooks. "Wag the dog" makes it great fun to watch them struggle along their way to get a president who molested a teenage girl reelected.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By jason spriggs on 24 April 2010
Format: DVD
SHALLOW AS A WORMS GRAVE!! Honestly some people, what more can i say about the top right review except ignore him!
Wag the dog is an excellent film, yep maybe it's a bit over the top but that just adds to the humour in this movie, I have watched this film many times over the years and still love it, know this sounds a bit of a cliché but it really is a timeless movie, full of good dry humour and suspense I do believe that a really great film is the kind that leaves you still thinking about for days after and for me wag the dog was one of them, its a sharp intelligent and thought provoking film, Hoffman is hilarious playing the part of a very successful movie producer with a chip on his shoulder because he has never won an award for any of his past work but for me what is most enjoyable about this film is the chemistry between each of the characters and how creatively they begin to feed off of each other, the acting is brilliant, very natural, I also really enjoyed how it seemed to poke fun at Americans taking full advantage of their naïve, sentimental and over patriotic personalities, there certainly is nothing slow or predictable about this film it is intelligent and funny and unpredictable to the end, anyway if you have never seen it then I highly recommend that you do, it really is a cut above!
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By A. B. Jay on 20 April 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
great movie, great cast, great music - a fun spin on politics and one always wonders how far from the truth
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
DVD in excellent condition, eventhough it was not new. I chose to buy a second hand one because the price of a new one was ridiculous, made the right decision! The film is brilliant: thought provoking and hilarious, and makes you think: how far from the truth is this??? Worrying. Very happy with it.
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By Dave R TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 10 Jan 2013
Format: DVD
This is the sort of film you will either find hilarious or dull as dishwater. If you find satire along the lines of "In The Loop", "The Thick Of It", "Drop The Dead Donkey" & "Yes, Prime Minister" funny, chances are you will enjoy this. If your bag is more along the lines of "Meet The Parents", you will probably not find this amusing.

There's no point me re-hashing the storyline, other reviewers have already done that. However, I will say that the biggest surprise about this film is that Americans can actually do a reasonable attempt at satire. We thought we had the monopoly on satire, whereas the Americans were good at cringe making situations. It's not as subtle as English satire, nor as cutting as "The Thick Of It", but it's very watchable.

The story line is pushing the bounds of feasibility, but who cares, isn't that one of the idea of movies?. If you get the humour, it is, as the cover says, hilarious. And unlike a lot of British satire, especially political satire, it's very easy going & fast moving. Hoffman, De Niro, Leary, Harrelson & Heche all turn in humorous performances, Harrelson probably being over the top, but the given the character he plays, it's forgiveable. Also nice to see William H. Macy in a much too short role & Willie Nelson pretty much playing himself.

I can see why some reviewers did not find it funny, satire is very much a "Marmite" style of comedy - personally I can't watch films like "Meet The Parents" & I can understand why, if that is your thing, this would not appeal. If you find "Thank You For Smoking" funny, this will probably work for you - ah, now I've remembered another American satirical film. Any more suggestions?
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