John Cusack Finds Your Iraq War Unfunny; Makes Funny Satire
In case you were wondering what John Cusack’s position on the Iraq war is: he doesn’t like it. Johnny and I discovered this last night at a screening of his upcoming film “War, Inc.” in which Cusack plays a hitman dispatched by former Vice-President Dan Ackroyd to do the dirty work of the Tamerlane corporation. But any similarities with Grosse Point Blank are purely cosmetic; Cusack spends the movie running around a war-torn Turaqistan bombastically sharing screen-time with Hillary Duff (!!) and Marissa Tomei, and generally lampooning the nature of corporate involvement in Iraq.
While the film is possessed with a fair number of brilliant moments (the Viceroy of Turaquistan communicates from a ‘secure location’ through screens on which images of Ronald Reagan, Hugh Heffner, Cary Grant, and Flipper are perpetually projected), its cartoonish elements succeed better than its sincere political satire. Its most effective touches—Cusack entering the secret government bunker through the back of a Popeye’s Fried Chicken or the goldencasino.com logo splashed across the side of a tank—are those that blend into the patina of satire. Unfortunately, the film errs just slightly too heavily on the side of didacticism. The good news is that for every bit of tin-ear dialogue, ‘War, Inc.’ offers five other hilarious things to distract you.
I did leave the theater wondering just how effective a film like this is. For all its slap-stick polemics, I have to imagine that should it see national release, it might alienate the audience it wants to persuade. This sort of satire, which has worked so well as a backdrop for books like Absurdistan and The Futurist, may be too strident as a main feature. I suppose we’ll find out later this month when the film is released. –John
Entry filed under: Art + Music.