Celebrate a laugh.
On the commentary track to the political satire Wag the Dog, director Barry Levinson talks about his approach to telling the story:
I always thought it needed to be very driven, that the dialogue would be the action in the sense that you had to move it, in a way. It had to be in motion all the time. You didn’t want to just sit there and take a kind of slow kind of rhythm to it, so that it was constantly muscular and always in forward gear in a sense.
It’s moving all the time so they’re talking very very quickly. And my feeling is that you’ll get the laughs that you get, and if you miss some, you miss some. And if you’re in a theater and you lost a few of the laughs, you’ll come back again. But there’s nothing worse than celebrating a laugh.
Better that we enjoy it in its context rather than celebrating any given laugh along the way. So the piece waits for no one.
Wag the Dog fits into a grand tradition of dark comedies at the intersection of media and politics like A Face in the Crowd and Network. The script, by David Mamet and Hilary Henkin, based on the novel American Hero by Larry Beinhart, is equally prescient. Shortly after the movie — which is about spin doctors cooking up a fake war in Albania to distract the American public from a presidential sex scandal — was released, the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal broke, and the U.S. went to war in Kosovo (on behalf of Albanian rebels).