Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
Watch On
  1. 100
    The movie is a satire that contains just enough realistic ballast to be teasingly plausible; like "Dr. Strangelove," it makes you laugh, and then it makes you wonder.
  2. If the result is often as glib as the targets it's satirizing, it's also driven by a cruelly distilled joy. Wag the Dog is an ode to the thrill of deception, a thrill embodied in Hoffman's inspired performance.
  3. Reviewed by: Michael Sragow
    90
    Director Barry Levinson has given this swift, sure-footed film a matter-of-fact, improvisational look and feel. To appreciate its brisk, confident, wild comedy, all you need is a funny bone and a BS meter.
  4. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    It's a deliciously outrageous premise, and director Barry Levinson and writers David Mamet and Hilary Henkin know just how to spin it, savaging Washington and Hollywood with merciless wit. It's a hoot.
  5. Wag the Dog, the poison-tipped political satire that's as scarily plausible as it is swift, hilarious and impossible to resist.
  6. A gloriously cynical black comedy that functions as a wicked smart satire on the interlocking worlds of politics and show business, Wag the Dog confirms every awful thought you've ever had about media manipulation and the gullibility of the American public. And it has a great deal of fun doing it.
  7. Sharp scripting, note-perfect performances, and nimble direction and technical execution combine to make Wag the Dog one of the wittiest and most mordant political satires to come along in quite some time.
  8. 88
    This is one of Levinson's best films, and the screenplay, co-penned by noted writer David Mamet (along with Hilary Henkin), is brilliantly on-target.
  9. 80
    Wag The Dog is an oft-hilarious, witty, scathing satire that represents four gifted if uneven artists (De Niro, Hoffman, Levinson, and Mamet) at the top of their respective games.
  10. This is hilarious, deadly stuff, sparked by the cynical gusto of the two leads as well as the fascinating technical display of how TV "documentary evidence" can be digitally manufactured inside a studio.
  11. Barry Levinson's dark comedy is sly, funny, and unnerving.
  12. Levinson's sure touch keeps audiences smiling and manages to maintain an aura of good nature in a film that, at heart, offers a caustic, almost bitter vision of American institutions and contemporary politics.
  13. It's a testament to what happens when all the right ingredients come together. Wag the Dog is the best political satire in years.
  14. WAG the Dog is a cozy political satire, the warm-and-fuzzy kind that is always entertaining yet never disturbing.
  15. Reviewed by: Godfrey Cheshire
    70
    Glib cynicism isn't a tremendously appealing quality, but in Wag the Dog it at least has the benefit of comic precision and polished handling.
  16. Reviewed by: David Denby
    70
    Barry Levinson’s political and media satire Wag the Dog goes as fast as the wind, and that’s a relief because the idea behind the movie is thin. Very thin -- and at times offensively glib.
  17. Reviewed by: Bob McCabe
    60
    Written in part by David Mamet, Wag The Dog is a lovely idea, with credibility buoyed by its incredible timeliness. But, content with its initial premise, the movie lacks the necessary bite to develop the satire further, to the point where it's difficult to spot whether Washington or Hollywood is the target.
  18. 60
    Wag the Dog is such a crisply delivered political satire, so packed full of wickedly amusing details and expertly modulated performances and with its heart so obviously in the right place that I really, truly wish I could tell you it was also a good movie.
  19. Reviewed by: Sandra Contreras
    50
    But anyone who would be inherently interested in this kind of sendup is unlikely to be surprised by anything in this film -- overall it feels like a trifle, if an entertaining one.
  20. So insidey it's almost parochial.
  21. Reviewed by: Tom Meek
    50
    Hoffman's electric performance carries the film beyond its banal pretext and Dennis Leary and Woody Harrelson are a scream in cameos.
  22. A blithely unfunny, low-budget comedy from director Barry Levinson.
User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 1 out of 2
  1. Sep 29, 2013
    8
    This movie is not good because of the story, the feeling, the actors' talent. It's good because what and how is it talking about politics andThis movie is not good because of the story, the feeling, the actors' talent. It's good because what and how is it talking about politics and how things are going in the shadow of the White House. It makes you think it makes you laugh, like a good comedian. It will tell you things in a very unique and funny way. But when you leave after it's performance you will think about what it's said and it will leave some messages deep inside you. If you like watching what happens behind the curtains, then this is your movie. But I could recommend it to nearly anyone. It is worth the time you spend on watching it. Full Review »
  2. MichaelD.
    Mar 13, 2006
    3
    I watched this in Luxembourg a couple of years ago and some people in the audience were laughing at scenes for reasons unclear to me.. It I watched this in Luxembourg a couple of years ago and some people in the audience were laughing at scenes for reasons unclear to me.. It seems to be an on the whole well regarded movie but I found it predictable, corny, cliched yes I did not like it at all. Full Review »