How to Fake a War

Movie review by
Alistair Lawrence, Common Sense Media
How to Fake a War Movie Poster Image
Sloppy war satire has swearing, violence, and materialism.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 84 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Cynicism, exploitation, and selfishness throughout. Characters create a war to make money and further their own career and brand. Lying, deception, and manipulation feature heavily, used as tools for characters to get what they want. Brief moments of honesty provide some reconciliation between family members, but these have no real impact.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are shallow, conniving, and dismissive of people who are different from them. Harry Hope values fame and prizes above helping other people. Kate tries to avoid family members by lying. Stereotypical images of Eastern European poverty. Characters blow up an impoverished village's bridge to help a fake news campaign.


War conflict shown. Characters are shot at: some are killed, another is wounded and bleeds from their arm. Character kicked in the face. Objects thrown by street protesters. Rioters clash with armed police, who assault them with batons -- not shown close up or graphic. Faked war scenes show characters with fake blood being directed to pretend to cry and show pain. Missiles fired. Reference to dead children. Fake crucifixions.


Character seen shirtless and refers to eating lunch "naked." Two characters remove each other's clothes while making sex references, then lie together partially clothed, presumably after having had sex. Character strips to underwear after swimming fully clothed.


Includes: "s--t," "mother-----r," "f--k off," "f--k me," "f--k," "pissing around," "bloody," and "bitch." " Foreign language referred to as "gobbledygook." Character told to "go and die in a fire." "Jesus f---ing Christ" used as an exclamation.


Materialistic rapper wears a fur coat and expensive jewelry. Complains about their coat touching the floor. The plot revolves around a ploy to get them more awards and make them more famous. Characters play poker.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink alcohol in moderation in bars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that How to Fake a War is a dismal comedy that satirizes the motives behind celebrity endorsements and charity work. There is plenty of bad language, while the effects of war -- both real and fake -- are also depicted. There are no positive role models, as a cast of cynical press officers and shallow celebrities -- led by PR consultant Kate (Katherine Parkinson) and superstar rapper Harry Hope (Jay Pharoah) -- try to exploit another country's unrest for their own gain. The residents of that country are portrayed as simple-minded, easy to fool, and violent. Violence features intermittently, as both real and fake wars are shown with some gunshots, beatings with batons, and bloody injuries. Some characters are shot and killed, but no close-ups of their deaths are shown. One character is kicked in the face by another, after an argument. Variants of "f--k" are used throughout in both anger and frustration. A language with a non-Roman alphabet is criticized as being "gobbledygook." Two characters undress while making reference to sex, before being shown lying together partially clothed.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjamesth9 August 7, 2020

A Good evening

I thought it funny and am at a loss to understand this review. Of course it involved some suspension of belief but after that it was quick and witty. When one p... Continue reading
Adult Written byKaren55 August 5, 2020

my plans failed

i was planing to start a war and then i watched this for inspiration but it totally destroyed my plans for the first strides of the war i was practising my war... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

In HOW TO FAKE A WAR, press officer, Kate (Katherine Parkinson), creates a fake war story that her client, global megastar Harry Hope (Jay Pharoah), can seemingly "stop" with his humanitarian work. But things quickly get out of hand as people from different sides believe the story to be real.

Is it any good?

A flimsy story filled with clichés, this movie limps through its 84-minute runtime as though it's sustained a battlefield injury of its own making. The characters' motivations frequently change to aid the plot. Sisters Kate and Peggy (Lily Newmark), in particular, alternate between being at odds and working as a team, moving past one major revelation about their relationship as quickly as it has been dumped into the story.

The dialogue is hampered with labored exposition, which leads to How to Fake a War 's attempts at humor falling flat. This is despite efforts to use jokes to shine a light on how the media and celebrities can attempt to exploit worthy causes to their own ends. The plot is largely implausible, too. The footage shot by Kate and her colleagues is unconvincing, while the movie's portrayal of foreigners as rural "simpletons" manipulated by cynical Brits and Americans is as lazy as it is dated. All in all, this is one "fake news" story that's unlikely to go viral.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the portrayal of the media in How to Fake a War. How does Kate try to manipulate the media for her clients? Should we believe everything we read and see? How to spot "fake news."

  • Discuss the effects of war in the movie, as well as the violence seen -- both real and fake? Did the fact the movie is a comedy effect the impact of the violence? How to talk to kids about violence, crime, and war.

  • Talk about the language used in the movie. Does it seem necessary or excessive? What does it contribute to the story?

  • What does the movie have to say about celebrity endorsements and charity work? Why are some people skeptical about the reasons for rich, famous celebrities engaging with worthy causes? Is it fair to criticize celebrities for this?

  • How does Kate and Peggy's relationship change over the course of the film? Why are relationships with loved ones often more complicated than we expect? Talk about your own family relationships and how you might improve them.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love satire

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