Review: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Is Funny But Not Perfect
Title: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Director:Screenwriter: Robert Carlock (screenplay) and Kim Baker (book ‘The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days In Afghanistan and Pakistan’)
Principal Cast: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Christopher Abbot, and Billy Bob Thorton
Summary:: A journalist recounts her wartime coverage in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I generally like Tina Fey and all of her various projects. I’m not always completely on board but she generally picks out decent projects. That being said I knew almost nothing about Whiskey Tango Foxtrot aside from a very brief television spot I saw while waiting for a YouTube video to load. I was a little worried, though, because the tone of the trailer seemed to be really pushing the comedy and I was concerned that, like most comedies, all of the good jokes would be in the trailer.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot might not be perfect, and the trailers are selling a much different movie, but the jokes are funny and the impact of the story cannot be denied.
The first thing I realized as I went into Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was that this was a movie that was being billed mostly as a comedy starring Afghanistan during the mid 2000’s where everything that was happening there could not have been less funny if it tried. However, the humor of the situation is more how people react to extreme situations than anything else. It’s an interesting ride to watch as Kim (Tina Fey) comes into this situation and how all of it starts to become “normal”. It’s only when the movie takes a step back that you really realize how absurd this entire thing is. That is where the real humor of the movie comes in and not the punchlines that are being shown on the various television spots and trailers.
The tonal shifts are almost enough to break the movie in some ways. Whenever it delves into something whacky or quirky it almost feels like we’re watching two different movies. I was much more interested in watching a bunch of people live in the middle of a warzone chasing storey leads for ratings where one mistake could lead to them getting shot. The joke with the “first woman driver” that is being pushed through all of the trailers, or Kim firing a gun and screaming, are the least interesting parts of the movie. When a character sits Kim down and likens what she is doing to a junkie chasing a high wasn’t meant to be funny, but the fact that it’s true almost makes it funny.
The cast is all great with Fey playing down her quirky traits more in this production. Kim is more down to Earth and ballsy than anything else and Fey is a captivating presence. Martin Freeman is on hand to play a Scottish freelance photojournalist that Kim befriends, and his over the top accent makes most of his lines entertaining. Margot Robbie is on hand as a fellow journalist that sort of takes Kim under her wing and the two form a strong friendship. The movie never fails to remind us, however, that despite how much all of these people might get along they are all on competing networks trying to get the best ratings at the end of the day.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot isn’t anything amazing but it’s good enough that I can’t say it was bad. I enjoyed it though I do believe it’s a movie that you watch once and done. If you’re a Tina Fey fan there is plenty to like here, but for the rest of us perhaps a matinee or waiting for a rent might be best.