From the moment I saw the preview, I knew I wanted to watch this movie, but I also knew that I wanted to rent it instead of shelling out big bucks for the big screen. The movie looked good, but, for me, there was no real draw to catch it in theaters. I am glad, however, that I followed through on renting it.
The cast is stellar. I've never been a Julia Roberts fan, but she does a fine job in this movie (although I think just about any actress could've pulled her role off ... it wasn't a very challenging character portrayal). Tom Hanks is solid; nothing amazing, but solid. My favorite character, and if you've read just about any of the other blogs, you know that it's going to be Philip Seymour Hoffman... but it's more than just his mere presence. This is yet another role that proves he's very versatile. His low key, sarcastic, acerbic wit caused me to laugh audibly (or LQTM for all you Demetri Martin fans). I understand why PSH was nominated for best supporting actor for his role in this film, but Casey Affleck, Javier Bardem [winner], and Tom Wilkinson were all more impressive in their Oscar-nominated roles (although it wasn't PSH's fault ... it was merely the role).
*Spoiler Alert* It's hard to spoil anything in this movie b/c it happened in the '80s, so if you don't know the outcome then you're an idiot. Anyway, the only problem I had with this movie was the end. The Commies have been defeated and Charlie Wilson wants to spend $1 MIL on rebuilding schools in Afghanistan, but those other dumb politicians don't want to... The message seems to be if the US had only spent $1 MIL on rebuilding Afghan schools then 9/11 wouldn't have happened. Uhh, what?! They don't explicitly state that schools = no 9/11, but it's definitely implied. I haven't witnessed an ending that naive since ... well, I can't think of anything right now, but it was daftly simplistic to say the least.
Final Grade: B/B+
Blurb: It's not often that a political drama is actually good (see: All the King's Men, Lions for Lambs, etc.), but this one is. The subject matter is somewhat serious, but the tone is mild and plenty of breaks are deftly provided by Philip Seymour Hoffman's character. Rent this one and enjoy.