Wag the Dog

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{film, series, show}
{war, force, army}
{government, party, election}
{work, book, publish}
{law, state, case}
{theory, work, human}
{album, band, music}
{woman, child, man}
{service, military, aircraft}

Wag the Dog is a 1997 black comedy film starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro about a Washington spin doctor who, merely days before a presidential election, distracts the electorate from a sex scandal by hiring a Hollywood film producer to construct a fake war with Albania. The scheme enlists the aid of a country music singer, who creates several theme songs for the war; a "fad king"; and a costume designer, who helps create a fictional special forces unit to fight the war's supposed battles.

The title is explained at the beginning of the film, by a caption that reads:

Why does the dog wag its tail?
Because the dog is smarter than the tail.
If the tail were smarter, it would wag the dog.

Wag the Dog was produced and directed by Barry Levinson. The screenplay was credited to Hilary Henkin and David Mamet. The film is based on the novel American Hero by Larry Beinhart; however, the film differs greatly from the book. In the book, the president is specifically George H. W. Bush (in the movie he is unnamed), the fake war operation is explicitly Desert Storm, and the war actually occurs, instead of being entirely falsified.[1] The film was nominated for two Academy awards: Dustin Hoffman for the Academy Award for Best Actor and Hilary Henkin and David Mamet for Best Adapted Screenplay.[2]

Contents

Plot

When an unnamed president of the United States is caught in a closed room making advances on an underage "Firefly Girl" (the fictional equivalent of a Girl Scout) less than two weeks before re-election, Conrad Brean (DeNiro), a hired political gun is brought in to try to take the public attention away from the scandal. He decides to construct a fake war with Albania, hoping the media will concentrate on this instead. In order to come up with his 'war', he contacts a Hollywood producer named Stanley Motss (Hoffman), who brings in a series of specialists who help construct a theme song, build up interest, and fake some footage of an orphan in Albania.

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