Saturday, August 20, 2016

Britches too big

I don't really know enough about War Dogs to make any assumptions about it, yet I'm going to do that anyway.

It seems like a movie starring two guys who have gotten too big for their britches.

Jonah Hill has big britches anyway. (Sorry, that was bad.) But Miles Teller, once an unassuming and likable John Cusack type, is starting to become an assuming and unlikable John Cusack type. You know, like John Cusack himself has become.

I don't know if you would know it from his screen performances alone, though I haven't seen a couple of his last few movies (ahem The Fantastic Four), but Teller sure came across as an asshole in a profile I read of him not long after Whiplash came out. It's possible that the writer just didn't like him and decided to make him look like a jerk, but the image he presented of Teller was of a guy who thinks very highly of himself, is easily perturbed, and wants to challenge anyone who has even constructive criticism of him.

So I can't help but think that those traits inform a movie like War Dogs, in which Teller plays one of two characters who gets involved with a bunch of swaggering and bling once they start war profiteering. Obviously this film will end up teaching them a lesson about whatever situations they get themselves involved in, but there's also a lot of slow motion and strutting image shots and the like, which celebrates the glamor of their pursuits. (Or at least, that's what I remember from my one screening of the trailer.)

As for Hill, I kind of feel like this is a natural offshoot of his role in The Wolf of Wall Street, which involved a very similar type of thing -- a schmuck becoming incredibly powerful and making it rain, or whatever the white guy equivalent of that is. If this is indeed any part of Hill's personality or screen persona now, it could very easily be because of that Oscar nomination he got for Wolf, which encouraged him that he wears this type of thing well. Some of you may agree, but me, I hated Wolf of Wall Street.

The poster only reinforces these concerns -- in addition to having the wrong actor name over the head of each person. (I get that Hill needs to come first because he's more famous, but then just design the poster differently.)

The other problem with this movie is that I generally hate comedy satires set around modern foreign conflict. Think Lord of War. That's obviously the most relevant comparison for a movie like War Dogs, as both deal with weapons sales, but other movies with tangential concerns (Wag the Dog, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, etc.) don't really do it for me either. Does War Dogs have that much hope of being different than their ilk?

I guess we'll see when I watch this on the plane to America in December.

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