Cinema surveillance images are loading at the bottom of the page

Wag the dog - Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Anne Heche, Barry Levinson

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Less than two weeks before election day, a scandal erupts that threatens to cripple the USA president's bid for a second term. Anticipating the reaction of a frenzied press corps, Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro) deftly deflects attention from the president by creating a bigger and better story - a war. With the help of Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman), a famed Hollywood producer and his irreverent entourage, Brean assembles an unlikely crisis team who orchestrate a global conflict unlike any ever seen on CNN.

Wickedly fictional with historical overtones truer than many care to admit, Wag the dog examines the blurred lines between politics, the media, and show business.

Persons of interest

  • Dustin Hoffman .... Stanley Motss
  • Robert De Niro .... Conrad Brean
  • Anne Heche .... Winifred Ames
  • Denis Leary .... Fad King
  • Willie Nelson .... Johnny Dean
  • Andrea Martin .... Liz Butsky
  • Kirsten Dunst .... Tracy Lime
  • William H Macy .... CIA Agent Charles Young
  • John Michael Higgins .... John Levy
  • Suzie Plakson .... Grace
  • Woody Harrelson .... Sergeant William Schumann
  • Michael Belson .... President
  • Suzanne Cryer .... Amy Cain
  • Hilary Henkin .... Screenwriter
  • David Mamet .... Screenwriter
  • Larry Beinhart .... Author: American hero
  • Barry Levinson .... Director

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Lines so blurry you didn't even know they were there.

As a protester against the Gulf War (until it started) and a poor student without a TV, I went into that whole war with an edge of cynicism (as if I didn't have one already). I was therefore able to see more clearly the manipulation of the media and the public by the forces of Satan (er, I mean the USA military). So when I sat down in the air-conditioned Roadshow Theatrette to watch Wag the dog, it was like a homecoming.

I have always liked the intertextuality of TV in film and to watch master spin doctors at work was sheer pleasure. The script is one of the best I have ever heard uttered: sharp, funny, witty and, shock of shocks, ironic. Who would've thought that Americans could be ironic? Perhaps there's hope for them yet.

Acting-wise, Dustin is a little bit Tootsie and Robert is a little bit bland but these are only minor niggles. Anne is wonderfully natural as an up-and-coming Washington political woman and the supporting cast is brilliant. The production values are so perfect it's scary.

This is a film worth seeing, all the moreso for its historical (and contemporary) references. Hi Bill, hi Saddam. It's excruciatingly funny, supremely witty and as black as all hell.

Security censorship classification

M (Medium level coarse language)

Surveillance time

97 minutes (1:37 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 5 March 1998

Cinema surveillance images

Wag the dog image

[ Return to top ]