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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A group of White House staffers conspires to defraud the American public so they can keep their candidate in office.
Violence & Scariness
Two people are killed off-screen. It's implied that a sex offender attacked a farmer's wife. The president is accused of molestation.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A White House staff member sleeps with a member of the press to advance their conspiracy. She's shown in bed draped in a sheet.
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A lot of swearing: "f--k" (many times), as well as "s--t" and many others.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some drinking and smoking cigarettes and cigars by adults.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the president is accused of molesting a teenage girl. All of the main characters lie and work to defraud the voters in order to have their candidate re-elected. A woman sleeps with a man in order to advance their conspiracy. Conrad has a producer killed when he threatens to reveal the faked war. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Leaving the politics of the film aside, it's very well done. DeNiro is clearly having a great time playing a political mastermind dressed as a college professor, and Hoffman is irresistible as the megalomaniacal producer who's always got a story of how producing a movie is harder than producing a war. Once you get past the eerie feeling that you're watching voter fraud with a happy soundtrack, Wag the Dog is quite enjoyable.
In the book 1984, George Orwell created a world in which a corrupt government controls its people with campaigns of fear and ever-rotating wars against shadowy enemies. WAG THE DOG shows how that kind of corruption could be played out in the TV age. This film will be forever steeped in the world of Clinton and Monica Lewinski and the attack on Somalia for those who saw it in the theater in the late '90s. But it's oddly resonant in the early '00s as well, in a world of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, ever-shifting wars on terrorism, elusive Osama Bin Laden, and Guantanamo Bay.
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Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate