Today, I went with my friend, Ryan, to see Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. I wanted to see both this and Zootopia, but it didn’t work out. Such is life, but I do not regret choosing to see this movie, at all. I’ll be seeing Zootopia soon, but for now this movie will do.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is about a woman named Kim Baker who chronicles her time in Afghanistan as a field reporter in the early 2000s. It’s based on a memoir called The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan by journalist Kim Barker.
I remember when I watched the trailer for this movie. I thought “this could either be really good or really tone-deaf,” and I’m pleased to write that it is far more describable as the former rather than the latter. It’s a clever dramedy with characters you really grow to understand and connect with while they’re performing their very dangerous jobs.
The best part about this movie, for me, was definitely Tina Fey as Kim Baker. That’s not to say the other actors phoned it in, all the performances were fantastic, it’s just that Fey stands out so much. She is one of the great comedic actors of her time, and I adored watching her in this film. What I really like about her performances is that she’s never over-the-top unless a role demands that of her. She’s best when she’s being more quietly funny rather than flamboyantly funny like Melissa McCarthy or sometimes Kristen Wiig. That’s why she’s really perfect for this part. You’re able to connect with her on a deeper level when you have to, but you also feel like you could have a drink with her and just bask in the absurd and crazy nature of the job she does.
Of course, this is also a testament to the good writing of this movie. The story is really fresh, as it’s a perspective that isn’t explored much: what is it like to be a foreign correspondent? Knowing as little as I did about the profession, I was as lost as Fey’s character was at the beginning. It’s a basic formula, fish-out-of-water scenario, but it’s done really well and you get to see how her character changes as time passes. It’s also very interesting and organic growth, because a lot of movies mess up this formula by saying how much a character has changed without really showing it. This movie doesn’t make that mistake. It’s also just really funny! There are a lot of clever, funny lines in the movie that don’t detract from the dramatic narrative, rather they add to it. That is what makes it such a solid dramedy.
Now, all this being noted, the movie did have some issues. I thought some of the pacing was a bit odd at some points. For instance, the beginning is so short and quick. I realized about 15 minutes in that I didn’t even know the main character’s name. I was just thinking of her as Tina Fey until they said her name again and I was able to remember it. They don’t really build up to her decision to just take this assignment after never having been a foreign correspondent before let alone one in such a dangerous environment. It doesn’t make a lot of sense until way later in the movie when she explains it, but at that point it wasn’t really that relevant. That’s tough for me to write, because I actually loved the scene where she explains why she took the job, but remembering how rushed the beginning was it just felt a little forced. So, I have to believe that the movie suffers from what most adaptations do: it’s not long enough. The pacing and editing in some parts are just so obviously abrupt that I think they had far more to show us and just didn’t have the time. That’s sad, because I’d actually see a longer cut of this film and enjoy it as I enjoyed it the way it is.
Overall, definitely Stub It. It is totally worth the price of admission. It was an excellent movie with great writing, great acting, and a really unique and engaging plot.