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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: Film misses the rich absurdity of its subject

Tina Fey plays Kim Baker in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, in theatres March 4, 2016.

Frank Masi

1.5 out of 4 stars

Title
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Written by
Robert Carlock
Directed by
Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Starring
Tina Fey
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2016

In military terms, the fog of war is a cloud of confusion that descends on the battlefield, preventing fighters from clearly seeing their targets. There is also a fog of filmmaking, and it appears to have affected those responsible for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a war-set comedy-drama as messy and ineffective as an Afghan suicide donkey.

The absurdity of an explosives-laden ass, alas, doesn't make the leap from the pages of The Taliban Shuffle, Kim Barker's 2011 memoir as a newbie war correspondent, to the film screen; but then neither does most of the rich absurdity she chronicled. Instead, we get familiar Tina Fey, blowing up her desk-jockey life to become a TV reporter and watch things blow up on the other side of the world.

Veteran showrunner Robert Carlock has written sharp female-centred TV comedies before (30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), but they depended on a quirky hothouse rhythm that seems to have escaped the grasp of co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. The dialogue is sour, the politics problematic (Broadway veterans as Afghan locals? Why not?!), and the sentiments sometimes eye-rolling. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, indeed.

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About the Author
Senior Media Writer

Simon Houpt is the Globe and Mail's senior media writer, charged with covering the industry's transformation. He began his career with The Globe in 1999 as the paper's New York arts correspondent, covering the cultural life of that city through Canadian eyes. More

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