Charlie Wilson’s War is mostly an entertaining, funny movie, and it’s a pleasure to see Tom Hanks‘ return to lighter fare. Following the true story of one congressman’s fight to help the Afghanis fight the Soviets in the early 80’s, the movie starts out as a light, entertaining, “swinging” romp, and then loses its way in the last quarter.

Hanks is good time guy Charlie Wilson: lush, womanizer, and congressman. He’s a yes man who’s breezing his way through congress doing just what he must to remain in office. Then he learns about the slaughter of the Afghani people by the Soviets and, at the same time that he’s fighting allegations of drug use in a Las Vegas hotel room (side note here, Rudy Giuliani was the prosecutor of the case), he decides undertake to solve the problem in Afghanistan.

Once Hanks has met up with Julia Roberts and the superb Phillip Seymour Hoffman (dare I say the best actor of his generation?), he convinces congress to continue increasing the defense spending in Afghanistan, until they can afford anti-aircraft guns. Okay, at this point in the film we’ve seen the refugee camps and we have sympathy for the Afghanis, but now we see stats about Soviet planes shot down with weapons we gave the Afgahnis, and we’re supposed to feel triumphant. What I felt was conflicted. On the one hand I was into the movie and the Soviets were bad, on the other, this is what created the situation we’re in with the Taliban. It was a very strange thing.

Performance-wise, as previously stated, it was terrific fun to see Hanks in a lighthearted role; it seems like years since he’s done a comedy. Unfortunately, some comic actors stop doing comedies when they become stars, I don’t know why. It’s easy to forget, with the success of films like Philadelphia and Cast Away, and their ilk, that Hanks started out in comedy: Bosom Buddies, Bachelor Party, and Big to alliteratively name a few.

Julia Roberts does her best with a one dimensional role. The woman behind the man, I wanted to learn more about Joanne Herring; unfortunately, the film did nothing to fill in the blanks. Amy Adams was charming, as always, in a supporting role. The real reason to see this though is Hanks and Hoffman together. What great chemistry they have; a few more scenes together and this might be considered a buddy pic.

This is not necessarily a big screen film; you may as well wait for DVD if you haven’t already shelled out the bucks at the box office.

Advertisements