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Fey Enters the Fray In Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Movie Memoire of an Embedded Reporters Time in Afghanistan
Deployed this past week to a theater near you is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot known colloquially as WTF starring Tina Fey who plays Kim Baker, an embedded reporter in Afghanistan. The movie recounts the wartime coverage in the region and is based on the Book by Kim Barker called “The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan”. Robert Carlock adapted the screenplay who is known for his writing on SNL and 30 Rock. The movie is directed by Glen Ficarra and John Requa (Focus/Bad Santa). For those keeping track at home this movie is rated R and is currently boasting a Rotten Tomatoes Review of 60%.
For those who have seen the trailers and have been a bit confused as to the tone of the movie, it’s apt to “feel” that way because the movie is a “tween-er”, balancing on the edge between comedy and drama/tragedy, but isn’t that what life really is like? However, if you liked Good Morning Vietnam, my suspicion is you will enjoy this movie as well. Even if you aren't into the whole wartime/comedy genre, this movie has a lot to offer not only in laughs, but in heart as well.
The movie navigates the mess of war with an adept agility, and in so doing, we gain respect for Fey as Kim Baker who not only survives, but flourishes in this arid Afghan climate. There are moments early on where Baker makes missteps, but that is bound to happen to anyone entering a new land and culture and comedic and nearly catastrophic reactions ensue. And Baker doesn't balk at the challenge, but rises to it.
In the past, a woman in a role like this would be seen as a fish out of water type, maybe casting Melissa McCarthy or a more classic Goldie Hawn as the embedded reporter. There might have been some slapstick comedic moments involving dumping out multiple cosmetics from a handbag and discussions of skin treatments in such an unforgiving climate, Kim/ Fey asserts herself as a competent journalist in war, and not as Billy Bob Thornton’s General Hollanek suggests, a distraction for the men.
Speaking of Thornton, the supporting cast for this movie only add to the flavor and texture of it. there are also great moments from the supporting cast. Margot Robbie plays Tanya Vanderpoel, another embedded reporter who quickly becomes Fey’s friend in the fray of Afghanistan as well as Martin Freeman, who plays Iain MacKelpie, a Scottish reporter who is seen as a bit of a jerk early on but with many redeemable characteristics. Then off course there are the natives like Alfred Molina, who plays Ali Massed Sadiq and Fahim, played by Christopher Abbot, who is Baker's driver/interpreter/navigator through the Afghan desert.
Best War Comedies (Seems Like An Oxymoron Yes?)
Which War Time Comedy/Drama do you think hit's it's mark?
There is the comedic, and the tragic thrown together in this movie and like in life, they are next door neighbors with thin walls. But while the movie could have gone the more mainstream route of straight comedy replete with silliness and a sense of the unreal, this movie takes a more realistic approach in it's humor and let's the land and it's people offer both laughs and tears.
Like the aforementioned Good Morning Vietnam, the importance here is to report/perform an occupation while occupying or working in a part of the world that is not very receptive to that occupation. Couple that with the fact that Afghanistan is all but forgotten amid the war in Iraq, and let’s face it, some guy hiding in a cave is harder to report on than lot of the sabre rattling that Saddam Hussein was good at providing the media. Baker, however, learns to find value the place she reports, and understands not only the importance of the region, but the American soldiers going into harm’s way on a daily basis as well as the service they are trying to provide to the people there.
There is also the great culture shock of going from western society to being a woman in that region of the world, and the rules/restrictions/ surrounding it, and the movie depicts it as a simple fact, and the advantages and disadvantages of immersing yourself that culture. The movie does not shy away from the women’s issues in the story, but presents it as a fact of life in the middle east.
Within the chaos of war, the uncertainty and fear in the volatile region, relationships bud and flourish, romance brews and percolates, and life goes on in spite of the larger issues in the region and this movie gives us a taste of that. All in all, I would say go spend the money for this movie, bring a date, or yourself, as you will no doubt find value and enjoyment in the viewing.