Photo Credit: The Verge
Tina Fey manages to make a very unfunny subject funny in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a movie that lovers of dark, satirical comedy with an edge and something to say are sure to appreciate.
WTF is based on Kim Barker’s honest and bitingly hilarious memoir “The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The memoir is Kim’s story about covering the war beat as The Chicago Tribune’s South Asia bureau chief.
Fey has always shown a gift for lacing laughs with satirical sting, so it’s not surprising that she does this one quite well. This “girl-power comedy with a bold twist,” as MTV.com’s Amy Nicholson so aptly refers to it, “is oppression versus decadence,” with both groups extremists, though the foreigners are “just having a lot more fun.”
At home, Kim (Fey) was basically a nobody who rarely got a second glance, but things change for her in Afghanistan, where men outnumber women 30 to 1. When she arrives in Kabul, not only does she discover a hotbed of war and violence, but a hotbed of sex, where after dark journalists act out like college freshmen celebrating their freedom.
The Guardian calls it Fey’s best feature film by far, and while that may be a low bar, the role definitely utilizes her “smarts, comedic timing and the fundamental goodness that exudes from her persona.”
Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers notes that while we “hadn’t seen Fey ride in choppers, fire weapons, duck explosions and lock horns with the Taliban, who else could better mine the gallows humor of suicide bombers and IEDs?” When Barker’s book was reviewed for The New York Times in 2011, Michiko Kakutani wrote that the author “depicts herself as a sort of Tina Fey character, who unexpectedly finds herself addicted to the adrenaline rush of war.” How prophetic.
Travers sums it up with, “Fey knows the power of making you laugh till it hurts,” while MTV.com’s Nicholson hazards a guess that in 10 years, perhaps Fey won’t be hosting the Golden Globes, but will be winning Best Actress.
The overall casting, which also includes Margot Robbie as a sultry reporter, Alfred Molina as the hilarious local official and Billy Bob Thornton as a military commander, is also terrific, making this dramedy a definite thumbs up.