7.2/10
75,285
227 user 142 critic

Wag the Dog (1997)

Trailer
0:31 | Trailer
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 »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Analyze This (1999)
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A comedy about a psychiatrist whose number one patient is an insecure mob boss.

Director: Harold Ramis
Stars: Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

After his life is saved by a lonely cop, a mobster who moonlights as a stand-up comedian provides the cop with a beautiful young companion.

Director: John McNaughton
Stars: Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, Bill Murray
Ronin (1998)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A freelancing former U.S. Intelligence Agent tries to track down a mysterious package that is wanted by the Irish and the Russians.

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone
Flawless (1999)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

An ultraconservative police officer suffers a debilitating stroke and is assigned to a rehabilitative program that includes singing lessons, with the drag queen next door.

Director: Joel Schumacher
Stars: Robert De Niro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Miller
The Fan (1996)
Action | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

An all star baseball player becomes the unhealthy focus of a down on his luck salesman.

Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Robert De Niro, Wesley Snipes, Ellen Barkin
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Two weeks in the life of a fading Hollywood producer who's having a rough time trying to get his new picture made.

Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Robert De Niro, John Turturro, Stanley Tucci
Sleepers (1996)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After a prank goes disastrously wrong, a group of boys are sent to a detention center where they are brutalized. Thirteen years later, they get their chance for revenge.

Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Robert De Niro, Kevin Bacon, Brad Pitt
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

The story about a cheating and incompetent lawyer (Harry Fabian) who suddenly gets obsessed on becoming a boxing promoter.

Director: Irwin Winkler
Stars: Robert De Niro, Jessica Lange, Cliff Gorman
Midnight Run (1988)
Action | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An accountant is chased by bounty hunters, the F.B.I., and the Mafia after jumping bail.

Director: Martin Brest
Stars: Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, Yaphet Kotto
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Two escaped cons only prayer to escape is to pass themselves off as priests and pass by the police blockade at the border into the safety of Canada.

Director: Neil Jordan
Stars: Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Demi Moore
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A movie crew invades a small town whose residents are all too ready to give up their values for showbiz glitz.

Director: David Mamet
Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Rebecca Pidgeon
Jacknife (1989)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A conflict develops between a troubled Vietnam veteran and the sister, with whom he lives, when she becomes romantically involved with the Army buddy who reminds him of the tragic battle ... See full summary »

Director: David Hugh Jones
Stars: Robert De Niro, Kathy Baker, Ed Harris
Edit

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
Edit

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 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Barry Levinson | Production Notes 1 | See more »

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Albanian

Release Date:

9 January 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bite the Bullet See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$92,079, 28 December 1997

Gross USA:

$43,061,945

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$64,256,513
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
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The talk show phone number, 1-800-555-0199, is common to many films and television shows, because this is the only number that has been reserved by the phone company as an allowable fake 1-800 number for media usage. See more »

Goofs

The correct word in Spanish for senator is "Senador", not "Sénador", as it appears on Spanish-language TV when referring to the opposition leader. See more »

Quotes

Stanley Motss: This is politics at its finest.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"Special Thanks to The Cast and Crew for Completing Principal Photography in 29 Days!" See more »

Connections

Featured in The Directors: The Films of Barry Levinson (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

The American Dream
Written by Tom Bähler
Performed by Tom Bähler and Friends
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Short & sharp satire on media manipulation
4 January 2002 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

During the campaign to re-elect the president of America, an underage sex scandal between a girl scout and the president in the oval office. To divert attention spin doctor Conrad Brean is called in to manage the fall out and hold it off for the 11 days till the election. Conrad employs Hollywood producer Stanley Motss to produce a war in Albania to divert the media away from the real story.

This was made before Clinton was accused of misconduct with Monica Lewinsky and the subsequent re-start of military action in Iraq. This seemed to give it a much greater feel of realism and much more credibility. However even before this happened it was still a very sharp and very good satire on political spin, but also managing to have a dig at Hollywood movie types. The story is told in a very stage-play fashion and is dialogue driven with very funny moments throughout. It's not as terrifying as a real look at media manipulation could be because it chooses to be a comedy instead but it still makes plenty of valid points.

The two leads are excellent at the head of an all-star cast. De Niro manages to be a professor-style character while at the same time having an easily accessible sense of menace just beneath the surface. Hoffman is good sending up Hollywood producers well and drawing parallels between the creation of a film and the creation of political news stories. The cast also has a series of cameos and extended cameos who add both humour and quality to the film - Willie Nelson, Denis Leary, James Belsuhi, William H Macy etc.

Recently in the UK we've had huge problems with spin doctors running the Labour Government - to the extent that 11th September was described as "good" by one as it gave them the chance to bury several bad news stories that they had stored up. And more recently with various Governments' waging a media war to win support their stance regarding military action. This film doesn't make hugely serious points but it does make you think about how the media is used to shape public perception and make us think what those in charge want us to think.

Overall a very funny, very clever satire that has a great cast, the only criticism being that it stretches it's point a little too far with the "old shoe" section.


37 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 227 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed