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Wag The Dog
(New Line Platinum Series)

review by Zach B.

 

Rated R

Studio: New Line

Running Time: 96 minutes

Starring: Robert DiNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Anne Heche, Willie Nelson, Kirsten Dunst

Adapted by David Mamet and Hilary Henkin

Directed by Barry Levinson

Retail Price: $24.98

Features: Commentary with Barry Levinson and Dustin Hoffman, Production Notes, Interviews, Cast and Crew Bios, Essay, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1 Pan and Scan, 5.1 Dolby Digital English, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Chapter Search (22 Chapters)

Brining some excellent acting and behind-the-scenes talent together, "Wag The Dog" is a hilarious and well put together satire based on the book "American Hero". The film follows two White House spin doctors, Conrad Brean and Winifred Ames as they must figure out a solution to detract the public from a presidential scandal, weeks before the big election. They decide to stage a war, with help from Hollywood mogul Stanley Motss. Nothing can go wrong if no one suspects anything, right?

"Wag The Dog" is an excellent movie, as it was showered with some major nominations at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards®. However, the movie gathered an incredible amount of attention shortly after its release because of the whole President Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, and how some elements hit pretty close to home. The two are not exactly alike, but still.

The film is really well done. Barry Levinson gives wonderful direction to this vision, working from David Mamet's script (with some shared writing credit from Hilary Henkin), and the performances are excellent. Robert DiNiro is surprsingly good as Conrad, Anne Heche is wonderful and striking, but Dustin Hoffman steals the show as producer Stanley Motss.

"Wag The Dog" is a good and entertaining satire, and once again, New Line has given us a disc which really shines.

Once again New Line delivers a wonder transfer for each viewing format. The pan and scan and anamorphic widescreen look identical in picture, and that's a good thing. Colors are incredibly well saturated and flesh tones look really nice. Detail is good as well, and I didn't notice any grain, blemishes or dirt. Another superior New Line transfer.

I wasn't expecting too much with the 5.1 Dolby Digital, and while it was what I expected pretty much, it wasn't as bad as I thought it could have been. This movie is dialogue driven, and surrounds aren't used at all. Music helps at points, but the whole movie basically revolves around the center channels.

Another great Platinum Series disc features some great supplements. Probably the highlight of the disc is the Audio Commentary with Barry Levinson and Dustin Hoffman. I found this to be one of the most insightful tracks I ever heard, as the two discuss some aspects of the production and inspirations. The film was shot in a short four weeks, and Levinson talks about David Mamet's disappointment with how he had to share writing credit, though most of the script is Mamet's own. Hoffman talks about how he based his character, and said it is sort of based on his own father, but you may notice some of producer Robert Evans in there...

Some lengthy Production Notes are a good read, but what I found to be really interesting was the Essay on Hollywood and Politics, which is a MUST read.

Rounding out the disc are some Interviews, Cast and Crew Bios, and the Theatrical Trailer.

The menus are nicely done too and are presented with much ease, and I found them to fit really well with the film. I know I don't mention menus so often, but I found these worth pointing out.

Great movie, great presentation, great features. Need I say more? If you missed "Wag The Dog", be sure to pick up this disc.

(4/5, NOT included in final score)

(4.5/5)

(3.5/5)

(3/5)

(3.5/5, NOT an average)

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