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Wag the Dog Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    The movie is a satire that contains just enough realistic ballast to be teasingly plausible; like "Dr. Strangelove," it makes you laugh, and then it makes you wonder.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    This is one of Levinson's best films, and the screenplay, co-penned by noted writer David Mamet (along with Hilary Henkin), is brilliantly on-target.

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  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    If the result is often as glib as the targets it's satirizing, it's also driven by a cruelly distilled joy. Wag the Dog is an ode to the thrill of deception, a thrill embodied in Hoffman's inspired performance.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 16+

Entertaining, creepily resonant political comedy.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the president is accused of molesting a teenage girl. All of the main characters lie and work to defraud the voters in order to have their candidate re-elected. A woman sleeps with a man in order to advance their conspiracy. Conrad has a producer killed when he threatens to reveal the faked war.

  • Families can talk about their reactions to the film's premise: Do you believe that the government is so desperate to stay in power that it would stage a war to do it? What are the correlations between the film and recent military attacks? This is also a good opportunity to teach kids to think critically about the messages the government is sending -- how do you judge for yourself whether a government policy is good or not? How do politicians use emotions to manipulate voters?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: A group of White House staffers conspires to defraud the American public so they can keep their candidate in office.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Two people are killed off-screen. It's implied that a sex offender attacked a farmer's wife. The president is accused of molestation.

  • sex false3

    Sex: A White House staff member sleeps with a member of the press to advance their conspiracy. She's shown in bed draped in a sheet.

  • language false3

    Language: A lot of swearing: "f--k" (many times), as well as "s--t" and many others.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some drinking and smoking cigarettes and cigars by adults.