Charlie Wilson’s War
This moustache alone shows that CIA operatives deserve a party with a hot tub and blow too.

Theatrical Release Date: 12/21/2007
Director: Mike Nichols
Cast: Tom Hanks, Amy Adams, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman

I was pretty unmoved by the movies available to middle America in the handful of weeks at the end of ’07 and the beginning of ’08. There were the few non-mainstream offerings with Oscar ambitions, but the availability of such films in Indianapolis is something akin to finding White Castle in France.

But there was “Charlie Wilson’s War”. Good cast. Good director. A politically motivated topic (take that for better or worse). Wait… make that a great cast. Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts could phone in decent enough performances. Philip Seymour Hoffman has been so impressive for so many years that I always expect good things. The only primary character without an Oscar is Amy Adams who only has a nomination.

The plot tows the line between exploring a topic mixed up in the recent past that has an important part in of current American foreign policy. It takes place back in the cold war as the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. It’s a weird area from the American perspective that this film takes on.

Enter Tom Hanks at an early 80′s hot tub party surrounded by naked chicks and people doing blow (Aaron Sorkin wrote this scene for a reason). I wonder if Hanks used an ass double for this scene. If not, who cares… however if so… talk about a great line item on a resume.

From there the movie gets you used to the way things are done in Wilson’s particular office as part of the Congressional House of Representatives. Soon afterwards, director Mike Nichols builds up the evilness that was the Soviet Union to any American in the Regan era. Enter the CIA, and things begin to take off for the movie in plot and humor.

It’s very well paced. Very funny, but serious at all the right times. Everyone performs well, and makes the movie better than it would have been with a different cast. The most entertaining part is easily Hoffman, who pulls off a really funny supporting character. Sorkin’s quick dialogue and Hoffman’s take on this character hit an out of the park home run from the first scene he’s in. Hank’s and Roberts do more than just phone it in and actually do very well with their characters and material. Hanks’ comedic roots show, and his scenes with Hoffman are very good.

Despite the amazing cast discussed above, I’ll personally have to say that Ned Beatty and Shiri Appleby really round out the cast for me. What can I say? Beatty always adds a je ne sais quoi to anything he’s in. You can’t detach him from “Deliverance” no matter how many chemical showers you take. On the other hand, Appelby’s character is only referred to throughout the movie by her nickname “jailbait”. N’uf said.

A few of the really good lines are in the main trailer for the film, but there are many gems throughout. The politics are questionable based on your leanings, but I left with the impression that if you take away the funny, it’s a lot more truth than it is fictionalized. Is it necessary to see? No. But Hoffman will make you laugh.

Based on all that, I’ll give it a strong 4. It’ll never be a 5, but it’s worth multiple views and probably a purchase in my household.