Saw CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR at a theatre in Maui that specified “shirts and footwear required”. Needless to say, this crowd was not wowed by the film. But to be fair, if anyone was expecting a big star-studded splashy event picture this was not it. CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR was a very well made but sober true story about the Afghanistan-Soviet War of the late 80s. The stars make the tough subject matter palatable for those general audiences who need to be reminded not to attend the theatre barefoot.
I don’t know if I need a spoiler alert since the trailer and every review I’ve seen pretty much lays out the story. This Texas councilman arranges a covert war. We just watch the events unfold. The screenplay by Aaron Sorkin crackles at times, occasionally goes off on riffs of policy and political speak (the same stuff we all zoned out on in WEST WING but followed the story anyway), and is heavy on smart but light on emotion.
Tom Hanks, affable as ever, stars as Charlie Wilson. He pretty much goes back to the accent he employed in VOLUNTEERS (and even dons the white dinner jacket again). Philip Seymour Hoffman absolutely STEALS the picture. Hands down. No one even close. His first scene alone should earn both him and Sorkin Oscar noms.
But then there’s Julia Roberts. There must easily be a hundred other actresses who could have played her part as well or better. You’re getting the name, a really bad wig, and nothing remotely special. You watch her scenes and think to yourself… if only Meryl Streep were playing this… or even Allison Janney.
Mike Nichols got some great performances and it was refreshing to hear a Sorkin script spoken at a pace that real people speak in. CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR is well worth seeing, it’s a story that deserves to be told, and I hope it does well in the boxoffice.
But I dunno, I was expecting more. After all, I paid full price and wore real shoes, not even flip flops.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
By Ken Levine at 11:36 PM