“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” Produces Genuine Laughs But Mixed Messages

There’s no question that actress and comedian Tina Fey is a funny lady. From her spot-on impersonations of Sarah Palin to her perfectly-timed sarcasm in her movies and TV shows, she’s both relatable and endearing. These traits come across splendidly in “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” (view the trailer here), a new dramedy about timid cable news producer Kim Barker (Fey) who is unexpectedly sent to Kabul, Afghanistan in 2002 to report from an out-of-control war zone. The supporting cast (including Billy Bob Thornton, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman and Alfred Molina) is a surprisingly entertaining mix of actors whose characters help develop Fey’s character as she adapts to the unfamiliar territory, struggles with personal and professional issues, and finds out if she can become the fearless TV reporter she always wanted to be.

It’s not necessarily a feel-good movie as it scrapes the surface of many real-world issues concerning war, sexism, loss, and guilt, but it’s not a full-blown drama, either. As aforementioned, there were some VERY funny moments; even my parents were giggling at the funniest lines (which, ironically, were not actually uttered by Fey, a comedian.)

But despite its entertaining cast and compelling plot line, the movie couldn’t make up its mind as to its main message. Was it that you can’t rely on anyone but yourself, as evidenced by the fact that not one person the main character had a relationship with (her ex-boyfriend in New York, her female colleague and new best friend, and her sort-of boyfriend in Kabul) actually had her back? Was it that you have to accept whatever curve balls life throws at you and move on before they knock you down? Or, finally, was it that you should take risks in order to succeed at work and in life? All three are decent messages, but WTF was the movie trying to tell us? (That’s probably not the ideal thing to wonder as you leave the film you just watched.)

All in all, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is definitely worth a viewing! Equal parts funny, emotional and serious, it may not be an Oscars 2017 contender but it does portray some interesting aspects of what I imagine to be real life in Afghanistan for locals, soldiers, reporters and expats. You won’t leave the theatre disappointed.

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