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Wag the Dog (New Line Platinum Series) (1997)

4.2 out of 5 stars 326 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Wag The Dog (DVD)

Academy Award winners Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman star in a tale of politics, power and Hollywood so outrageous it could be true! Two weeks before re-election, the President of the United States (Michael Belson) is accused of accosting a girl scout. Before the news reaches the media, his advisors call in a political consultant (De Nireo) specializing in image rescues. What to do? Hire a Hollywood producer (Hoffman) to create a war--distracting public attention from the scandal and rallying Americans to their President in surge of patriotic ferver.


Not only was Barry Levinson's comedy shot in a relatively fast period of 29 days, the satire of politics and show business feels as if it were made yesterday. There's a fresh spin quite evident here, a nervy satire of a presidential crisis and the people who whitewash the facts. The main players are a mysterious Mr. Fix-It (Robert De Niro), veteran Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman), and a White House aide (Anne Heche). Can the president's molesting of a young girl be buried in the two weeks before an election? A war in Albania just might do the trick. In the good old days, the president would just invade. With modern technology, it's even cleaner. The hungry press looks for any lead, convenient misinformation is created by the latest Hollywood fakery ("all developed by the new James Cameron film") creating images and merchandise all instantly packaged. And it must be real, because it's on TV. David Mamet's script never questions the morals or the absolute secrecy needed to pull this thing off. He and director Barry Levinson have enough truth in the story to make you wonder what is real news and what is just promotion the next time you see CNN. Many of the supporting players impact the story with mere presence: Denis Leary as a quote man, Willie Nelson as a songwriter. The three leads are magnificent. With the similarities between history and this film, Wag will forever linked to the Monica Lewinsky saga. This video version contains a new minidocumentary focusing on the parallels of the film with the Bill Clinton scandal, including comments from director Barry Levinson and hosted by newsman Tom Brokaw. --Doug Thomas

Special Features

  • An essay on Hollywood and politics
  • Interviews

Product Details

  • Actors: Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Anne Heche, Denis Leary, Willie Nelson
  • Directors: Barry Levinson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: New Line
  • DVD Release Date: November 15, 2005
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (326 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780622561
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,064 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Wag the Dog (New Line Platinum Series) (1997)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
A lot of people knocked this film for being a rip-off of current events. Nothing could be further from the truth! What makes this satire so amazing is that its all coming true. For example:
1) This movie was made BEFORE the lewinsky/clinton scandal but the details were frighteningly similar
2) It told us the war of the future would be against dissident terrorists plotting against the US from camps in some remote country...years before we had heard of al Qaeda, 9/11, or a war in afghanistan
3) Watching Willie Nelson leading the 9/11 Tribute to Heroes telethon in singing "God Bless America" seemed like it was a rip-off of this movie.
To many, the premise of this movie may have seemed absurd when it was released. But each passing year reveals how closer it is to the truth than we think. For a scary, thought-provoking satire of Hollywood and Washington, check this movie out.
If it was a 2002 film, people would say it was a clever satire. That it was made in 1997 qualifies it as an absolute classic.
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Format: DVD
It's only 11 days before the presidential election. All is well until- OOPSY DAISY!! The president himself rapes a visiting firefly girl, in the whitehouse! Enter Anne Heche as the press secretary and Robert De Niro as Conrad Brean, spin-god and clean-up man extraordiaire. Together, they must find a way to divert the public's attention until after the election. They enlist the help of hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) in order to fabricate something big in a hurry. Can they get the current scandal wiped from the front pages of the papers in time? Yes, of course they can! With the help of a small army of actors, singers, advertising types, etc., Motss delivers a war with Albania! Why? Because they have "the bomb"! Not only that, but it's a suitcase bomb, and it's already in Canada, waiting to cross the border and destroy us! Watch as theme songs are concocted to fit the pre-arranged outcome! See slogans and catch-phrases on t-shirts and TV screens! Wonder at the gung-ho spirit of the manipulated masses as they participate in the greatest scam ever conceived! I love WAG THE DOG. It is a perfectly executed lampoon of all things political / commercial. This is the cynic's dream and the paranoid conspiracy theorist's nightmare! There are no good guys in this movie. Everyone is either dirty or totally oblivious. The words "republican" or "democrat" are never mentioned (the president's face is never shown), after all, party affiliation is irrelevant when we're all just an audience for the great charade. WTD is a movie that everyone should see at least twice. Once for the acidic humor, then again for the lurking truth behind it! Anne Heche's verbal assault on Hoffman's character (right after the plane crash) is priceless! Highly recommended...
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Format: DVD
When I saw this film at the cinema I thought it was a half decent parody of the Clinton administration, and the devious behaviour of politicians in general. As an ex civil servant I thought it was an extreme piece of satirical commedy with a clear message on the dangers of "spin". Had I rated it at he time, I would have given it a strong 3 star rating.

Given the events since the film, it's message and relevancy have become more important. The writers and director weren't intending to be prophetic (unlike Chaplin's the great dictator), but real world events have given this film a second lease of life! Great example of reality imitating art ......
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Format: DVD
This satire directed by Barry Levinson (And Justice For All) rather than becoming 'dated' gets more delicious and enlightening with age.
The title 'Wag The Dog', originally referred to the need for reality to fashion itself to conform to the power of television. In order to play to the people, the facts had to be styled to meet the method of distribution.
The film now offers a much greater lesson and a warning to the population of the great lengths to which politicians and the government might go to deceive the American people and/or fabricate 'truth' to suit their own end.
The commentary, although only five years old, has become the most 'dated' feature on the DVD.
The multiple occurrences of: the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, the terrorists and 09/11/2001, colored ribbons, 'spontaneous' waves of patriotism, and the recent war in Iraq (particularly the revelation of the true facts surrounding the rescue of Jessica Lynch) have made 'Wag The Dog' more cutting edge with the advent of each individual incident.
Today's viewers must continually and repeatedly jolt themselves back to reality with reminders that they are NOT viewing an educational documentary on 'spin' or a how-to-film outlining methods for fabricating and implementing diversion, but are instead viewing an entertaining and satirical film developed well before the occurrence of any of the events listed above.
This is a film where David Mamet, well known for his realistic dialogue, had the character's speaking the future in a most frightening way.
'Wag The Dog' is great viewing for new and repeat viewers alike. It is a reminder of how we the public can be misled by what we see and hear in the press and on television. The film itself is however not misleading, but thought-provoking, and as it chillingly turns out, perhaps even more realistic than we knew in 1997.
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