Wag the Dog

January 9th, 1998


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Still of Robert De Niro, Anne Heche and Dustin Hoffman in Wag the DogDustin Hoffman, Woody Harrelson and Barry Levinson in Wag the DogStill of Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman in Wag the DogStill of Robert De Niro and Anne Heche in Wag the DogStill of Dustin Hoffman in Wag the DogStill of Robert De Niro in Wag the Dog

Before elections, a spin-doctor and a Hollywood producer join efforts to "fabricate" a war in order to cover-up a presidential sex scandal.

Release Year: 1997

Rating: 7.1/10 (43,746 voted)

Critic's Score: 73/100

Director: Barry Levinson

Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Anne Heche

After being caught in a scandalous situation days before the election, the president does not seem to have much of a chance of being re-elected. One of his advisers contacts a top Hollywood producer in order to manufacture a war in Albania that the president can heroically end, all through mass media.

Writers: Larry Beinhart, Hilary Henkin

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
Jason Cottle - A.D.
David Koechner - Director

Taglines: A comedy about truth, justice and other special effects.


Official Website: New Line Cinema [United States] |

Release Date: 9 January 1998

Filming Locations: Bakersfield, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $15,000,000(estimated)

Opening Weekend: $92,079 (USA) (28 December 1997) (3 Screens)

Gross: $43,022,524 (USA) (3 May 1998)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Both Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman did the film for no upfront salary. Hoffman and Barry Levinson did this movie while on a break from doing Sphere.

Continuity: On the blackboard stating the days until the election, the number 8 is written twice.

Conrad 'Connie' Brean: And it's most certainly NOT about the B-3 bomber.
John Levy: There is no B-3 bomber.
Conrad 'Connie' Brean: I just said that! There is no B-3 bomber. I don't know how these rumors get started!

User Review

The Best Political Satire Since Dr. Strangelove

Rating: 9/10

Rarely can film satire make you laugh and be worried about the future at the same time. Levinson's film does just that, with a great cast and great writing, this film succeeds.

You may have noticed that many of the posts and reviews argue that this is not plausible. Obviously these posters do not realize that satire is supposed to be over the top and show what can happen in extremes, and ironically, this came out just after Clinton's sex scandal, and is still relevant today with George W. and will continue to be regardless of the president. Also, some may think it oversimplifies the public as idiots, but this isn't true, especially if they are being deceived and information is withheld. There are some implausibilities, as in why no reporters went to Albania or how other countries didn't get involved other than denying the charges, but these are small and even addressed in scenes with the rival candidates, news reporters and even CIA head William H. Macy.

Really I don't know how anyone can not like this film since it is smart, funny and scary all at once with fine performances and direction all around. This is an American political satire classic that is sadly becoming less satire as time goes on.

OVERALL: 9/10. Buy or at least rent before the satire becomes reality.