7.1/10
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221 user 137 critic

Wag the Dog (1997)

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Shortly before an election, a spin-doctor and a Hollywood producer join efforts to fabricate a war in order to cover up a Presidential sex scandal.

Director:

Barry Levinson

Writers:

Larry Beinhart (book), Hilary Henkin (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dustin Hoffman ... Stanley Motss
Robert De Niro ... Conrad Brean
Anne Heche ... Winifred Ames
Woody Harrelson ... Sgt. William Schumann
Denis Leary ... Fad King
Willie Nelson ... Johnny Dean
Andrea Martin ... Liz Butsky
Michael Belson Michael Belson ... President
Suzanne Cryer ... Amy Cain
John Michael Higgins ... John Levy
Suzie Plakson ... Grace
Kirsten Dunst ... Tracy Lime
Jason Cottle ... A.D.
David Koechner ... Director
Harland Williams ... Pet Wrangler
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Storyline

After being caught in a scandalous situation days before the election, the president does not seem to have much of a chance of being re-elected. One of his advisers contacts a top Hollywood producer in order to manufacture a war in Albania that the president can heroically end, all through mass media. Written by Christy

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A comedy about truth, justice and other special effects. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Albanian

Release Date:

9 January 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bite the Bullet See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$92,079, 28 December 1997, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$43,022,524, 3 May 1998

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$64,217,092
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Why change horses midstream?" was originally a campaign slogan for Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. See more »

Goofs

A few pieces of technical equipment are seen several times reflected from Motss' glasses. Also, in the songwriting scene, there is a camera stand in one corner of the studio (although this may be part of the decor of the producers' house). See more »

Quotes

Stanley Motss: Oh, it's better than lovely. This guy made a deal with Governor Knee-High of Vermont...
Faye: [Corrects him] Senator Leahy.
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Crazy Credits

Dustin Hoffman's main title credit is faded in over a close up of a vacuum cleaner. See more »


Soundtracks

Good Old Shoe
Written by Edgar Winter
Performed by Willie Nelson & Roebuck 'Pops' Staples (as Pops Staples)
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User Reviews

Fascinating and Interesting.
3 July 2002 | by tfrizzellSee all my reviews

Barry Levinson's under-rated "Wag the Dog" is a brilliant piece of satire which is to the 1990s what "All the President's Men" was to the 1970s. The president is in trouble after a sexual scandal with an under-aged girl. Enter Robert DeNiro and Anne Heche who want to distract the nation with something else as they try to get their boss out of the hot seat. The only problem is: nothing is going on. So it is up to them to create something to rally the country around the executive-in-chief. Now enter sleazy, but high class Hollywood director Dustin Hoffman (in a well-deserved Oscar-nominated turn) who is contacted to start an imaginary war. He agrees and the plan works, but as time goes by more and more problems occur and the lies continue to snow-ball. Levinson's excellent direction and Hilary Henkin's clever screenplay raise the performances of all involved. Naturally DeNiro and Hoffman are guaranteed to excel in a film like this, but good work is also done by people like Heche, Denis Leary, William H. Macy, Woody Harrelson and even Willie Nelson (!?). Somewhat ignored in 1997, but still one of the best films of that year and one of the more important films of the 1990s. 4.5 out of 5 stars.


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