Movie review of “War Dogs”: This Iraq war movie focuses on the misadventures of two Miami Beach potheads (played by Miles Teller, Jonah Hill) turned arms dealers. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
How did Todd Phillips, the director of the “Hangover” comedies, end up making an engrossing, depressing Iraq war movie, “War Dogs,” that’s deeply critical of the Bush administration?
Movie Review ★★★
‘War Dogs,’ with Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Pollak. Directed by Todd Phillips, from a screenplay by Phillips, Stephen Chin and Jason Smilovic. 114 minutes. Rated R for language throughout, drug use and some sexual references. Several theaters.
Officially based on a Guy Lawson Rolling Stone article, the script began to take shape in 2004-2007, when the writers drew from a collection of true stories that touched on bribery, forgery, scandalous deal-making and meetings with insurgents during the war.
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The result, “I Rock Iraq,” became known as one of Hollywood’s best unproduced screenplays. The storyline of the finished film focuses on two Miami Beach potheads (Miles Teller, Jonah Hill) whose misadventures include supplying illegal weapons and making a $300 million deal.
Hill has two Oscar nominations to his credit (for his best-supporting-actor roles in “Moneyball” and “The Wolf of Wall Street”) and Teller made memorable impressions in “The Spectacular Now“ and the Oscar-winning “Whiplash.’’ They make a terrific team: Hill with his boisterous, scary best friend who knows no limits; Teller with his more worried, quieter partner in international crime.
They savor their best dialogue (listen to what Hill does with the quotable “I get the crumbs” line) and so does their director, who gives small but showy roles to Bradley Cooper and Kevin Pollak. The whole may be less than its parts, but the parts are pretty impressive.
Best of all is a seamless soundtrack of pop songs that often comment on the action. A war movie accompanied by The Who and Leonard Cohen? Why not?