REVIEW: POLTERGEIST (1982)

CAST

Craig T. Nelson (Silkwood)
JoBeth Williams (Wyatt Earp)
Heather O’Rourke (Happy Days)
Dominique Dunne (The Shadow Riders)
Oliver Robins (Man Overboard)
Zelda Rubinstein (Southland Tales)
Beatrice Straight (Network)
Richard Lawson (wag The Dog)
James Karen (Hercules In New York)

Steven and Diane Freeling live a quiet life in an Orange County, California planned community called Cuesta Verde, where Steven is a successful real estate developer and Diane looks after their children Dana, Robbie, and Carol Anne. Carol Anne awakens one night and begins conversing with the family’s television set, which is displaying static following a sign-off. The following night, while the Freelings sleep, Carol Anne fixates on the television set as it transmits static again. Suddenly, a ghostly white hand emerges from the television, followed by a violent earthquake. As the shaking subsides, Carol Anne announces “They’re here”.Bizarre events occur the following day: a drinking glass of milk spontaneously breaks, silverware bends and furniture moves of its own accord. The phenomena seem benign at first, but quickly begin to intensify. That night, a gnarled backyard tree comes alive and grabs Robbie through the bedroom window. While Steven rescues Robbie, Carol Anne is sucked through a portal in her closet. The Freelings realize she has been taken when they hear her voice emanating from the television set that is tuned to an empty channel.A group of parapsychologists from UC Irvine — Dr. Lesh, Ryan, and Marty — come to the Freeling house to investigate and determine that the Freelings are experiencing a poltergeist intrusion. They discover that the disturbances involve more than just one ghost. Steven also finds out in an exchange with his boss, Lewis Teague, that Cuesta Verde is built where a cemetery was once located. After Dana and Robbie are sent away for their safety, Lesh and Ryan call in Tangina Barrons, a spiritual medium. Tangina states that the ghosts inhabiting the house are lingering in a different “sphere of consciousness” and are not at rest. Attracted to Carol Anne’s life force, these spirits are distracted from the real “light” that has come for them. Tangina then adds that there is also a demon known as the “Beast”, who has Carol Anne under restraint in an effort to restrain the other spirits.The assembled group discovers that the entrance to the other dimension is through the children’s bedroom closet, while the exit is through the living room ceiling. As the group attempts to rescue Carol Anne, Diane passes through the entrance tied by a rope that has been threaded through both portals. Diane manages to retrieve Carol Anne, and they both drop to the floor from the ceiling, unconscious and covered in ectoplasmic residue. As they recover, Tangina proclaims afterward that the house is now “clean”.Shortly thereafter, the Freelings begin the process of moving elsewhere by packing up their belongings. During their last night in the house, Steven leaves for the office in order to quit his job and Dana goes on a date, leaving Diane, Robbie, and Carol Anne alone in the house. The “Beast” then ambushes Diane and the children, aiming for a second kidnapping by attempting to restrain Robbie and Diane. Robbie is attacked by a clown doll in his bedroom, and Diane is attacked by an unseen force that moves her up the wall and over the ceiling in her room. The unseen force drives Diane to the backyard dragging her into the swimming pool. Skeletons surround her as she tries to swim to escape, but she manages to climb out of the pool and make her way back into the house. She rescues the children, and they eventually escape to the outside only to discover coffins and rotting corpses erupting out from the ground in their yard and throughout the neighbourhood.As Steven and Dana return home to the mayhem, Steven confronts Teague after realizing that rather than relocating the cemetery for the development of Cuesta Verde, Teague merely had the headstones moved and the bodies left behind. The Freelings flee Cuesta Verde while the house implodes into the portal, to the astonishment of onlookers. The family checks into a hotel for the night, and Steven rolls the television outside into the walkway.Like most movies successful in the late 70’s early 80’s, there were sequels that were made with considerably higher budgets but less than stellar results. Neither of the Poltergeist sequels or subsequent television programming could come close to capturing the essence of the original. Besides, how can you top what is now one of the most famous movie tag-lines of all time `They’rrreeee Here’?.

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REVIEW: THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE

CAST

Keanu Reeves (Speed)
Al Pacino (Simone)
Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Jeffrey Jones (Deadwood)
Judith Ivey (Flags of Our Father)
Connie Nielsen (wonder Woman)
Craig T. Nelson (The Incredibles)
Heather Matarazzo (Hostel: Part II)
Tamara Tunie (Flight)
Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Selma)
George Wyner (Spaceballs)

Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves), a defense attorney from Gainesville, Florida, has never lost a case. He defends a schoolteacher, Lloyd Gettys (Chris Bauer), against a charge of child molestation. Kevin believes his client is guilty, and a reporter tells him a guilty verdict is inevitable. However, through a harsh cross-examination, Kevin destroys the victim’s credibility, securing a not guilty verdict.A representative of a New York City law firm offers Kevin a large sum of money to help with a jury selection. After the jury delivers a not guilty verdict, the head of the firm, John Milton (Al Pacino), offers Kevin a large salary and an upscale apartment if he joins the firm. Kevin accepts the job, along with his wife Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) to stay in Manhattan. He is soon spending all his time at work, leaving Mary Ann feeling isolated. Kevin’s mother, Alice (Judith Ivey), visits New York and suggests they both return home. He refuses.Kevin defends Alex Cullen (Craig T. Nelson), a billionaire accused of murdering his wife, her stepson and a maid. This case demands more of Kevin’s time, further separating him from Mary Ann. He begins to fantasize about co-worker Christabella (Connie Nielsen). Mary Ann begins seeing visions of the partners’ wives becoming demonic, and has a nightmare about a baby playing with her removed ovaries. After a doctor declares her infertile, she begs Kevin to return to Gainesville. Milton suggests Kevin step down from the trial to tend to his wife; but Kevin claims that if he steps down and his wife recovers, he may resent her.Eddie Barzoon (Jeffrey Jones), the firm’s managing partner, is convinced that Kevin is competing for his job when he discovers Kevin’s name is on the firm’s charter. Although a surprised Kevin denies any knowledge, Eddie threatens to inform the United States Attorney’s office of the law firm’s activities. Kevin tells Milton about Eddie’s threats, but Milton dismisses them. Meanwhile, Eddie is beaten to death by vagrants, who take on demonic appearances. Mary Ann witnesses this, disturbing her further.While preparing Melissa (Laura Harrington) to testify about Cullen’s alibi, Kevin realizes she is lying and tells Milton he believes Cullen is guilty. Milton offers to back Kevin no matter what he decides to do. Kevin proceeds with her testimony and wins an acquittal. Afterwards, Kevin finds Mary Ann in a nearby church covered with a blanket. She claims Milton raped and mutilated her, but Kevin knows this cannot be true as he was with Milton in court. Mary Ann drops her blanket, revealing her naked body covered with cuts. Kevin believes Mary Ann injured herself and has her committed to a mental institution. Alice, along with Kevin and Pam Garrety (Debra Monk), Kevin’s case manager from the firm, visit Mary Ann at the mental institution. After seeing Pam as a demon, Mary Ann hits her with a hand mirror and barricades the room. As Kevin breaks down the door, Mary Ann commits suicide by cutting her throat with a shard of broken glass.Alice reveals that Milton is Kevin’s father. Kevin leaves the hospital to confront Milton, who admits to raping Mary Ann. Kevin fires a pistol into Milton’s chest, but the bullets are ineffective and go straight through him. Milton reveals himself as Satan. Kevin blames Milton for everything that happened, but Milton explains that he merely “set the stage” and that Kevin could have left at any time. Kevin realizes he always wanted to win, no matter the cost. Milton tells Kevin that he wants Kevin and Christabella, Kevin’s half-sister, to conceive a child: the Antichrist. Kevin appears to acquiesce at first, but then abruptly cites free will and shoots himself in the head, rejecting his Satanic heritage. Kevin finds himself back in time at the recess of the Gettys trial. Choosing to do the right thing, Kevin announces that he cannot represent his client despite the threat of being disbarred. The reporter pleads for an interview, promising to make Kevin a star. Encouraged by Mary Ann, Kevin agrees. After they leave, the reporter transforms into Milton. In an aside, he quotes himself saying, “Vanity, definitely my favorite sin.”This is clearly one of the most clever and stunning works of art I’ve ever seen, and a pivotal film of the 90’s.

 

REVIEW: THE SKULLS

 

CAST

Joshua Jackson (Cursed)
Paul Walker (The Fast and The Furious)
Hill Harper (Limitless TV)
Leslie Bibb (Mom)
Christopher McDonald (The Perfet Storm)
Steve Harris (The Mod Squad)
William Petersen (Manhunter)
Craig T. Nelson (The Incredibles)
Nigel Bennett (Forever Knight)
Noah Danby (Bitten)
Matthew G. Taylor (Immortals)
Malin Akerman (Watchmen)

Luke McNamara (Joshua Jackson) is a student with aspirations to become a lawyer. A “townie” who grew up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, he did well enough in school to attend college on a scholarship where he is a champion rower. His best friends at college are his love interest Chloe (Leslie Bibb), and Will (Hill Harper) who is the coxswain of the Bulldog 8’s rowing team of which Luke is the captain (at the victory party for the 8’s, Chloe is revealed to come from a wealthy family which is why Luke is reluctant to reveal his feelings for her). Luke’s friendships hit the rocks when he is invited to join a secret society known as “The Skulls”. After Luke passes the first part of the initiation process – theft from a rival frat together with boxing prodigy Caleb Mandrake (Paul Walker) as his co-conspirator and alleged “soulmate”, and being lectured in the secret ritual room by a senior Skull that is standing in front of a wall with the word “WAR” engraved into it in huge capital letters. A senior Skull explains to Luke that the Skulls require their members to prove themselves in war. Luke has a falling out with Will when the latter realizes that Luke has become a Skull.Luke quickly strikes up a friendship with his alleged soulmate. Caleb’s father, Litten Mandrake (Craig T. Nelson), is the current Chairman of the Skulls and a Federal Court Judge who is pushing for a position in the Supreme Court, and his partner Senator Ames Levritt (William Petersen), takes an interest in Luke. Eventually Will, who has been conducting research on the Skulls for some time, discovers their secret ritual room. Will gets caught in the room by Caleb and in the ensuing struggle he falls and is knocked unconscious. Caleb is ordered to leave the room by his father, who then orders Skulls member and the University’s provost Martin Lombard (Christopher McDonald) to break Will’s neck. The Skulls manage to move the body and make it look like Will committed suicide in his dorm room by hanging himself.Luke is greatly troubled by the death of his best friend, especially because Will’s family is the only family he had (due to the death of his parents at a young age), and becomes suspicious that Will was in fact murdered. He initially thinks that Caleb is guilty of the murder, and Caleb thinks that he himself is guilty since he assumed that Will was dead when he left the room. With the help of some of his ‘townie’ childhood friends who have turned petty crime into an art form (Luke also bribes them to help him by giving them the car he had been given by the Skulls, a 1963 Ford Thunderbird convertible as an apology for missing his friends birthday the week before), Luke obtains the Skulls security tapes that prove Lombard committed the murder and in trying to convince Caleb of the truth (that it was his father who was responsible for Will’s death), Luke realizes how scared Caleb is of his father. Before Luke can show the evidence to police, the Skulls council, who know Luke has stolen the tapes, vote that he is no longer loyal (Litten Mandrake blackmailed Levritt with pictures of him and his much younger mistress to allow the vote to carry). When he does go to the police, the tape is switched by Detective Sparrow (Steve Harris) and Luke is confined to a mental hospital under the control of the Skulls.With the help of Levritt and Chloe, Luke manages to escape the hospital and he and Chloe survive an attempt on his life by Lombard who is shot and killed by Detective Sparrow (who it turns out is working for Levritt). Luke decides that his only option is to fight the Skulls by their own rules, and “bring war to them”. He challenges Caleb to a duel at the Skulls’ private island, by invoking rule 119. Litten tries to take his son’s place in the duel but is denied the opportunity due to another Skull rule (119b, line 15). After Luke and Caleb take their ten paces and turn around, Luke drops his gun and tries to convince Caleb of the truth and that he is not responsible for Will’s murder. Despite being pressured by Litten to kill Luke, Caleb cannot bring himself to pull the trigger. At this point, Litten loses control, grabs a pistol, and attempts to shoot Luke himself, but before he can fire, Caleb shoots his own father. The wound is not a fatal one, but Caleb, mortified at what he has done, tries to kill himself but is stopped by Luke.The film ends with Luke’s realization that Senator Levritt waited to help him until he had no other choice but to duel and eliminate his rival (Caleb’s father). Luke becomes disgusted with the order and refuses to participate further, despite threats from Levritt that he will be tracked down someday, and despite, or even because of, Levritt’s offer that the Skulls will accept him because he has proven himself in war. As Luke walks away Levritt says to himself, “Well done son, well done”. It has been speculated, because of this along with other incidents in the film (such as him comparing their backgrounds, Luke’s unknown father situation, and Levritt taking an immediate liking to Luke), that Levritt may be Luke’s father. The final shot of the film shows Luke reuniting with Chloe.

OK the plot is old hat (a secret society that rules the government and covers up a murder or two) but the movie is entertaining. The plot is relatively intelligent and fast-moving; the cast is uniformally good–even Joshua Jackson!; there’s no graphic gore (or nudity); and the action scenes are well-done and exciting. Not a great film by any means, but a fun, action-filled, entertaining two hours. Just don’t think about it too much afterwards.

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLES

CAST

Craig T. Nelson (Poltergeist)
Holly Hunter (Batman V Superman)
Sarah Vowell (End of The Line)
Spencer Fox (The Groomsmen)
Jason Lee (My name Is Earl)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan)
Elizabeth Peña (Rush Hour)
Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride)
John Ratzenberger (Cheers)

Public opinion turns against humans with superpowers – called “Supers” – due to peripheral damage caused by their crime-fighting activities. After several lawsuits, they are forced into civilian relocation programs by the government. Fifteen years later, Bob and Helen Parr, formerly known as Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, and their children Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack live as a suburban family. Bob is dissatisfied with suburban life and his white-collar job; longing for the glory days. Sometimes, Bob and his old friend Lucius Best – formerly known as Frozone – perform vigilante work without their wives’ knowledge during the night.
One day, Bob loses his temper because his supervisor refuses to let him stop a mugging, causing him to be dismissed. Returning home, Bob finds a message from a mysterious woman named Mirage, who convinces him to become Mr. Incredible again and gives him a mission to destroy a savage tripod-like robot called the Omnidroid on the remote island of Nomanisan, promising a substantial reward. Arriving on Nomanisan, Bob is able to find and destroy the Omnidroid by tricking it into ripping out its own power source.
Bob is rejuvenated by being able to use his powers freely, improving his attitude and relationship with his family; he begins rigorous training while waiting for more work from Mirage. Discovering a tear in his suit, Bob visits superhero costume designer Edna Mode, who decides to make him and his whole family suits, unbeknownst to Helen and the kids. Leaving for Nomanisan once again, Bob discovers that Mirage is working for Buddy Pine, a disaffected former super-fan rejected by Mr. Incredible who adopted the name Syndrome who intends to perfect the Omnidroid and defeat it in public while manipulating its controls to become a hero himself, and then sell his inventions so everyone will become equally “super,” making the term meaningless. Bob sneaks into Syndrome’s island base and finds his computer. He discovers Syndrome has lured countless retired superheroes to their deaths, pitting them against previous Omnidroid prototypes to test their design. Meanwhile, Helen visits Edna, finds out what Bob has been up to, and activates a homing beacon Edna built into the suits to find him, inadvertently causing Bob to be discovered and captured.
Helen borrows an airplane to head for Nomanisan but finds Violet and Dash have stowed away wearing their own suits, leaving Jack-Jack in the care of a babysitter. Syndrome picks up Helen’s radio transmissions and shoots down the plane, but Helen and the kids survive and make it to the island, though Bob thinks they are dead. Bob threatens to kill Mirage to force Syndrome to release him, but Syndrome calls his bluff and Bob releases Mirage.
Helen proceeds to the base to find Bob, discovering Syndrome’s intentions to send the Omnidroid to Metroville in a rocket. Distraught by Syndrome’s behavior and his true plans, Mirage releases Bob and informs him that his family is alive. Helen arrives and races off with Bob to find their children. Dash and Violet use their powers to counter a number of Syndrome’s guards in Nomanisan’s tropical jungle before reuniting with their parents. The family is captured by Syndrome, who heads off to initiate his plan.

The Parrs escape and use a security RV and a spare orbital rocket system to travel to Metroville. True to its programming, the Omnidroid recognizes Syndrome as an opponent and attacks the remote on his wrist, making the supervillain incapable of controlling it. The Parrs and Frozone team up to fight the robot in a losing battle until Bob comes across the remote. Using a fallen pincer of the robot, Elastigirl uses the remote to fire it at the Omnidroid’s power core, destroying it. Returning home, the Parrs find Syndrome, who plans to kidnap and raise Jack-Jack as his own sidekick to exact revenge on the family. As Syndrome tries to escape to his airplane, Jack-Jack’s own shapeshifting superpowers start to manifest, and he escapes Syndrome’s grasp. Helen rescues Jack-Jack; Bob throws his car at Syndrome’s plane, causing Syndrome to be sucked into the plane’s turbine by his cape. Three months later, the Parrs, having adjusted to civilian life, witness the arrival of a new villain called the Underminer. The family dons their superhero outfits, preparing to face the new threat.This film is definitely a classic of animation and once again Pixar shows why they are the masters of computer animation.

REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN – SEASON 1-3

CAST

Lynda Carter (Supegirl)
Lyle Waggoner (Love me Deadly)
Beatrice Colon (Happy Days)
Richard Eastham (Toast of The Town)
Norman Burton (Valley of The Dolls)
Saundra Sharp (The Learning Tree)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Red Buttons (The Longest Day)
Stella Stevens (The Poseidon Adventure)
Cloris Leachman (American Gods)
Christine Belford (Outlaws)
Lynda Day George (Chisum)
Anne Francis (Forbidfden Planet)
Dick Van Patten (Spaceballs)
Linda Carpenter (Apoclaypse Now)
John Saxon (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family 1964)
Debra Winger (Tears of Endearment)
Pamela Susan Shoop (Halloween 2)
Robert Loggia (Scarface)
Robert Reed (The Brady Bunch)
Tim O’ Connor (The Naked Gun 2 1/2)
Robert Hays (Airplane)
Harris Yulin (Ghostbusters 2)
Charles Cyphers (Halloween)
Fritz Weaver (Creepshow)
Bettye Ackerman (Rascal)
Jessica Walter (Arrested Development)
Brooke Bundy (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3/4)
Barry Dennen (The Shining)
James Hong (Agents of Shield)
Beatrice Straight (Poltergeist)
Bob Hastings (Batman: TAS)
Eve Plumb (Fudge)
Denny Miller (Wagon Train)
John Colicos (The Changeling)
Celeste Holm (High Society)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Dick Rambo (Another World)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Anne Ramsey (The Goonies)
Frank Gorshin (Batman 60s)
John Rubenstein (Angel)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Hal Englund (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Leif Garrett (The Outsides)
Martin Mull (Sabrina: TTW)
Lance LeGault (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation)
Craig T. Nelson (My Name Is Earl)
Mako (Conan The Barbarian)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
George Cheung (Rambo: First Blood)
Sheryl Lee Ralph (Moesha)
Judge Reinhold (Beverly Hills Cop)
Donnelly Rhodes (Tron Legacy)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Joan Van Ark (Knotts Landing)

Wonder Woman is a somewhat forgotten show, it’s not on syndication much, but it’s gotten a boost from a successful release on DVD. The first season takes place in the 1940s with Wonder Woman constantly fighting to dismantle the Nazi’s schemes. The following two seasons take place in the 1970s, and they will be released on DVD soon.

The show is always bordering on the level of high camp, but like most every show from the 1970s, it tells its’ story in a very plain straightforward fashion. Wonder Woman comes to the aid of Steve Trevor, who can never seem to help himself (the male in distress). Someone they know turns out to be an undercover Nazi spy, who is trying to steal valuable information or hurt many Americans.

Lynda Carter, first of all was amazing. She seemed to hit her stride in the part as the series continued and she is often so charming and innocent that you can’t help but like her. Her values and strength of character are idealistic, but they’re also missing in today’s female heroes, who are so dark sometimes, they lose their charm. In many ways, watching Lynda as Wonder Woman is a breath of fresh air and of course, there still doesn’t seem to be a woman other than her who could wear that outfit and pull it off. When Wonder Woman first walks on the city streets in the pilot, you don’t know what to think, but Lynda plays her so innocently she’s fantastic.

She is the driving force, but the innocent quality of the show (good vs. bad) is unique from today’s perspective. The comic book captions at the leads of scenes give it a tie to the comics. The guest stars are often interesting and have good roles and Lyle Waggoner is consistent in a rather thankless role as Steve Trevor.  It may not hold up perfectly today, but it’s a nice time capsule series and Lynda Carter does hold up well in a role she was born to play. And along with the Hulk, this was the best of the slew of comic book hero shows from the 1970s-early 80s.

REVIEW: THE PROPOSAL

CAST
Sandra Bullock (The Heat)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Mary Steenburgen (Elf)
Craig T. Nelson (The Incredibles)
Betty White (Bones)
Denis O’Hare (The Good Wife)
Malin Akerman (Watchmen)
Margaret Tate is an executive editor in chief of a book publishing company. After learning she is about to be deported to Canada because she violated the terms of her work visa, she persuades her assistant, Andrew Paxton, to marry her. She reminds Andrew that if she’s deported, the work he put in as her assistant will be lost, and he’ll be set back in his dream to become an editor. Mr. Gilbertson, a U.S. immigration agent, informs them that he suspects they are committing fraud to avoid Margaret’s deportation. Gilbertson tells them that they’ll be asked questions about each other separately. If their answers don’t match, Margaret will be deported to Canada permanently and Andrew will be convicted of a felony punishable by a $250,000 fine and five years in prison. Andrew insists that Margaret make him an editor after their marriage and publish the book he’s been recommending to her. Margaret agrees.
The couple travels to Sitka, Alaska, Andrew’s hometown, to meet his family. Margaret meets Andrew’s mother Grace and grandmother Annie a.k.a. “Gammy”. During the trip to the family home, Margaret notices that nearly every shop in town carries the name Paxton and learns that Andrew’s family is in fact very wealthy. During a welcome home party, Andrew confronts his father, Joe, who is angry about Andrew’s dating the boss he has so long disliked and thinks he is using her to get ahead in his career. After their argument, Andrew announces the engagement to everyone. Margaret also meets Gertrude, Andrew’s ex-girlfriend.
The next day, Grace and Annie take Margaret to a local bar to watch a strip dance by a locally famous but over-the-hill exotic dancer, Ramone. Stepping away from the show, Margaret learns from Gertrude that Andrew wanted to become an editor and make his own life and that Andrew had proposed to Gertrude. However, Gertrude refused because she didn’t want to leave Sitka for New York. Returning home, Margaret learns of the conflict between Andrew and Joe. That night, Margaret asks Andrew about his relationship with his father, but Andrew refuses to talk. Instead, Margaret opens up to Andrew.
The next day, the family convinces them to marry while they’re in Sitka. After Margaret realizes how close Andrew’s family is, she becomes upset, gets on Andrew’s boat, and speeds away with him. She tells him she has been alone since she was sixteen years old after her parents died and had forgotten what it felt like to have a family. She lets go of the helm and stumbles to the back of the boat. Andrew makes a sharp turn to avoid hitting a buoy, and Margaret falls out of the boat. Andrew quickly turns the boat around and saves her because she can’t swim. At the wedding ceremony, Margaret confesses the truth about the wedding to the guests, including Gilbertson, who informs her she has twenty-four hours to leave for Canada. Margaret returns to the Paxton home to pack her things. Andrew rushes to their room only to find Margaret has already left, leaving the aforementioned book manuscript with a note of praise and a promise to publish it. Gertrude attempts to comfort Andrew and asks if he is going to go after her. As he rushes out to find Margaret, another argument arises between him and Joe. Annie fakes a heart attack and convinces them to reconcile before she “passes away”. After she succeeds in getting things moving again, she owns up to faking the heart attack. Andrew’s parents realize he really loves Margaret. He goes to New York and tells Margaret he loves her in front of the entire office staff. They kiss, then go to Gilbertson and inform him they are again engaged, but for real this time. The film ends with Gilbertson asking questions (some of them irrelevant) not only to Andrew and Margaret, but also Joe, Grace, Annie and Ramone.
There’s no surprises here, but there are good laughs and interesting scenarios, and if you are in the mood for a good comedy, this is a good pick me up.

REVIEW: WAG THE DOG

CAST

Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Anne Heche (Spread)
Denis Leary (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Willie Nelson (The Dukas of Hazzard)
Andrea Martin (BLack Christmas)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
William H. Macy (The Cooler)
John Michael Higgins (Stil LWaiting)
Suzie Plakson (Red Eyed)
Woody Harrelson (The Hugner Games)
Suzanne Cryer (Veronica Mars)
Phil Morris (Jingle All The Way)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Marguerite Moreau (Easy)
Craig T. Nelson (My Name Is Earl)
The President of the United States is caught making advances on an underage “Firefly Girl” less than two weeks before Election Day. Conrad Brean (De Niro), a top-notch spin doctor, is brought in to take the public’s attention away from the scandal. He decides to construct a diversionary war with Albania, hoping the media will concentrate on this instead. Brean contacts Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Hoffman) to create the war, complete with a theme song and fake film footage of a photogenic orphan (Dunst) in Albania.
When the CIA learns of the plot, they send Agent Young (Macy) to confront Brean who convinces him that revealing the deception is against his best interests. The CIA announces that the war has ended, but otherwise maintains the deception and the media begins to turn back to the President’s abuse scandal. Motss decides to invent a hero who was left behind enemy lines, and inspired by idea that he was “discarded like an old shoe” has the Pentagon provide him with a soldier named Schumann (Harrelson) around whom he constructs a further narrative including T-shirts, additional patriotic songs, and faux-grassroots demonstrations of patriotism. At each stage of the plan, Motss continually dismisses setbacks as “nothing” and compares them to past movie-making catastrophes he averted.
When the team goes to retrieve Schumann, they discover he is in fact a criminally insane Army prison convict before their plane crashes en route to Andrews Air Force Base. The team survives and is rescued by a farmer, but Schumann attempts to rape the farmer’s daughter and the farmer kills him. Motss then stages an elaborate military funeral, claiming that Schumann died from wounds sustained during his rescue.
While watching a political talk show Motss gets frustrated that the media are crediting the president’s win to a tired campaign slogan of “Don’t change horses in mid-stream” rather than Motss’s hard work. Despite previously claiming he was inspired by the challenge, Motss announces that he wants credit and will reveal his involvement, despite Brean’s warning that he is “playing with his life”. Motss refuses to back down, so Brean reluctantly has him killed and makes it look as if he had a heart attack. The president is successfully re-elected and a news report about a violent incident in Albania is shown, but it is ambiguous whether this is a true event or simply a continuation of the fictional war.
“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.