Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Movie Review
It’s a lonely thing to be, a movie about Americans in Afghanistan. Few people want to see such things, even fewer actually do. The demand is so nonexistent that you wonder who approves such movies to be made, let alone who wants to make them in the first place. And yet here is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, an oddly not-odd sort-of drama based on Kim Barker’s experiences working as a journalist in Afghanistan, starring Tina Fey.
Marketed sort of as a comedy and sort of not, because after all it stars Tina Fey and she has to do funny (right?), Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was financially doomed from the start, but if you set expectations aside you’ll find a surprisingly decent movie here, a film stuck in that no man’s land of not-quite-a-comedy, not-really-a-serious-drama, and not-a-war-movie, either. Usually some designations, or lack thereof, are a death stroke, but for whatever reason Whiskey Tango Foxtrot works.
WTF (puh-lease, tell me you didn’t pick up on what the title stands for already?) isn’t going to win any awards. It isn’t serious enough to have much dramatic weight, and it certainly isn’t very funny. The acting is solid but not sensational, and when all is said and done, you acknowledge that Kim Barker had an interesting couple of years in Afghanistan and fine, let’s move on with our lives.
But for what it is, it’s a moderately entertaining and sometimes surprisingly good little movie that tells a quality story.
The movie suffers from some cheap writing at times--the naivety of Fey’s character early on is hard to fathom, and downright annoying, and certain characters, such as Alfred Molina’s Afghan character, is more caricature than anything else. But aside from some ups and downs, directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and screenwriter Robert Carlock develop an interesting set of characters who land themselves in some interesting circumstances.
I’ve never been a huge Tina Fey fan, at least when she’s in front of the camera, but one thing became clear while watching Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: she is much better in serious roles than she is in comedies. I don’t see an acting Oscar in her future, but Fey is engaging and accessible here and really makes the movie what it is.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot isn’t a great movie, but it is a good one, and that’s a surprise given its lackluster marketing and it being a movie no one wanted to see in the first place.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.