Charlie Wilsonís War (1/10)
by Tony Medley
Director Mike Nichols hit
home runs his first two times at bat with Whoís Afraid of Virginia
Woolf (1966) and The Graduate (1967). However, since then
heís been like Julie Andrews, who also started out with two great
winners and then faded with inferior product. Mike did a poor job
converting Joseph Hellerís masterpiece, Catch-22 to the screen in
1970. He followed that up with a lot of mediocre work until he directed
Closer in 2004, which showed that he still had some talent. After
sitting through this thing, though, maybe Closer was just an
To give Mike credit,
thereís really not much of a story here to tell. In 1980 nobody in
Washington wants to do much to finance the Afghani resistance to the
Soviet invasion, so Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks), a
morally profligate flake who employs only shapely bimbos (ďCharlie says
he can teach us to type but he canít teach us to grow titsĒ), sees the
light and gets financing to provide Stinger missiles to the Mujahedin so
they can shoot down Soviet helicopters and fighters. He does, they do,
Afghanistan wins, end of story.
But it takes 97 long
minutes for Nichols to tell the story. I canít ever remember seeing a
movie intended to deal with a serious subject that treats it with such
little respect and so superficially. Nichols and Sorkin disgrace what
Wilson did. There had to be a lot more to the story of getting this
funding through committees than what we see here.
Itís intended as a comedy,
I guess, so Hanks talks as if heís got mush in his mouth and doesnít
want to spit any of it out. Julia Roberts, who plays socialite Joanne
Herring, is starting to show her age and itís not pretty. Maybe she was
intended to look 45-years old. If so, they succeeded.
The movie credits Wilson
with winning the Cold War. Thereís not a mention of the guy who actually
did win the Cold War, Ronald Reagan, although there is a picture of him
on a wall.
But, forget politics, this
is just a very slow movie. There are lots of shots of Herring putting on
her makeup and a real long shot of Wilson driving in to a refugee camp.
Charlie soaks in several hot tubs and bath tubs. There are lots of lines
intended to be humorous, I guess. When I heard them it brought to mind what
sportswriter Red Smith said when asked how he writes, ďI open a vein,Ē
he solemnly intoned. The lines produced by screenwriter Alan Sorkin seem
to come straight from an artery, so labored are they.
The only things in it that
are worth watching are the performances of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who
plays disgruntled CIA agent Gust Avrakotos, and Amy Adams, who plays
Wilsonís Administrative Assistant Bonnie Bach. Hoffman has all the best
of the script and he does it well. Adams makes the most out of a role
that could have been forgettable.
Despite all the fawning
reviews youíre going to read, this one is a real yawner.
December 13, 2007