Two American idiots get involved in the arms business and soon find themselves out of their depth. That’s the crux of War Dogs, director Todd Philips’ latest search into the psyche of the dumb US male.
Jonah Hill and Miles Teller star in this true-life tale as Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, two 20-something chancers who manage to score an arms contract for the US government. They’re soon earning millions, but eventually everything is at risk. Phillips’ Hangover star (and producing partner) Bradley Cooper shows up as an old pro who offers the pair the opportunity to hit the big leagues.
War Dogs is a slick film with some good moments, but it’s just doesn’t pop in the way you want it too. It’s not as funny as you’d want and it’s not as dark as Phillips and company would like. It comes across as something compromised by the studio system or by the filmmaker’s hope of being all things to all people. Hill and Teller are both good as the young go-getters who have a shot at hitting the big leagues, by using the government’s open market system to abuse the American Dream.
My major issue with War Dogs is the soundtrack. Every three minutes we’re offered a cliched song to augment the onscreen action. Want to get the ‘cool’ vibes going? Play the opening to Aerosmith’s Sweet Emotion. Somebody sitting in a car a new country? Whip out Iggy Pop’s The Passenger. How about the opportunity to show the US Army in action? Yep – it’s gotta be Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son. What about a trip to Vegas? Dean Martin singing Ain’t That A Kick In The Head.
Overall, War Dogs is an entertaining comedy. It’s driven by sharp visuals and engaging performances by Jonah Hill and Miles Teller. Is it great? No. Is it enjoyable? Yes it is. It feels like Todd Phillips is morphing into the Michael Bay of comedy.
General Phillips: Boots on the Ground puts the focus on director Todd Phillips without ever going into too much detail. Access Granted offers a superficial look on the film’s true story while Pentagon Pie is animated toot.