Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – Motion Picture Maniac
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is one of those films I really had to work hard at to remember what the bloody hell it was called, I’m 21 at the moment so if it’s a result of my memory beginning fail me then, well, consider me slightly nervous. I don’t know what it is about the title that was so difficult to memorize but, if I had to guess, I would say it’s probably because my mind kept flooding with all the stupid jokes I can make out of it, not the deliberate joke in which the abbreviation of the title is WTF (yes, very funny Tina) but rather alternate titles that I find funny but really aren’t, like Vodka Salsa Raccoon Toddle, or Jaeger Waltz Piglet Tip-Toe.
But anyway, Scotch Ballet Monkey Swing stars aspiring queen of crude, Tina Fey as real life Kim Barker, whom wrote the book on which this was based and speaking of the book, she titled it The Taliban Shuffle, which tells me she probably has a sense of humor similar to the way Fey plays her in the movie so I’m gonna say that’s not bad casting. So, story wise, Kim is a reporter who works behind a desk which isn’t sitting well with her anymore and has left her very bored, so she agrees to take flight into the charming holiday destination, Afghanistan, to report the war (this is back in 2004 from what I recall).
There she meets a colorful cast of characters including Margo Robbie as another reporter whose quick to let the audience know she’s on the promiscuous side, probably to make every straight man and gay woman who saw Wolf Of Wall Street groan with lust until Suicide Squad shows her off a bit more. We’ve got Martin Freeman as a Scottish photographer with one helluva mouth on him, the kind that makes you question if the age certificate the film has is accurate, Billy Bob Thornton as a general who doesn’t find her as annoying as his personality suggests he should and Alfred Molina as an outrageously creepy Afghan government figure who should be wearing a t-shirt with the words “sex offender” right across the front… And back for good measure.
So commences a series of encounters and situations Kim finds herself in, all the while wondering if the grubby accommodation and chaotic battlefield is actually beginning to feel like her proper home. This is a film I was not expecting to be good but was hoping it would be because, even though I have found Tina Fey annoying in the past, I have also found her funny and the trailer was boasting a film that appeared at least competently made which is rare for comedy these days, most of them have this similar looking cheapness that does nothing if not make me retch, not the kind of gag they were hoping for. But hey, this movie was actually really entertaining, not quite laugh out loud funny but consistently entertaining all the way through and I had a good time with it.
The trailer makes it look funnier than it actually is, it’s more of a drama/comedy hybrid that fortunately didn’t come across like a tonal mess like Tammy or other such failures, and once I realized what it was I was watching, I settled into it quite nicely. In regards to performances everyone does quite nicely, it’s a cast that managed to find the line between funny-funny-ha-ha and serious-ish with a hint of fun still to be found, that sounds a bit mad I know but it works because pretty every aspect of the film is like that as well, the script, the direction, the style, the representation of characters, it’s all either serious but never in-fun or consistently giggle inducing.
In comparison to some of Fey’s previous cinematic appearances like Sisters, which I was not a fan of, she actually comes across as quite nuanced, the biggest jokes come from the dialogue and not from the fact she’s writhing about on the floor making vagina jokes, which she does not do here, obviously. Truthfully, the story is built up of set pieces and doesn’t really build up to its ending, but I had fun with this thing, it has clichés, it’s not great, but I was nicely entertained, it made me laugh, I was interested when things got serious, there are very well done parts, both technically and thematically, the tone is very well handled, it’s production value is surprisingly decent and it certainly got me interested in reading the book. Despite instances of unoriginality that occur in quick bursts, it was good, I feel I should stress it isn’t great, I don’t need to see it again, but it was time well spent, it’s perfect to take your mom to see, it’s one of those kinds of films.