November 26, 2007
"Charlie" Knee-jerk

"Charlie Wilson's War" is Mike Nichols on an off day. 97 minutes of keep-a-smile-on-your-face pleasantry, at best, but packing a hell of a performance from Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the film left a number of Aaron Sorkin's best lines on the cutting room floor while coming off much more impotent than one might have expected from a reading of the 145-page script that made the rounds over the past two years. It might be too easy to call it in the "Primary Colors" wheelhouse, but even that is too much of a favor to extend.

But I liked it. It's affable, says something underneath all the scars of editing and re-editing, and, like I said, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is on fire. But one is faced with a certain reality every year during the Oscar season, and that reality is, how much should we really expect from these efforts? Is a little too little? Is a lot too much? I don't know the answer, and frontrunners will be destined and annointed every time the industry builds up toward the song and dance that is the Oscars. Regardless, "Charlie" has a tougher road to hoe for Oscar than expected throughout the season. Maybe Hoffman can make it in, maybe Sorkin's adaptation can find room. I'm more positive on the former than I am on the latter, but I'm 90% sure Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts will get muscled to the outskirts of contention this time around.

But that's just one guy's opinion. I'll get to a proper review in due time, but look for reactions to land like wildfire in the next 12 hours.


Judging from the trailer, I never felt the film had strong potential beyond supporting actor and the script. I don't know why everyone held it in their predictions so long.

"I don't know why everyone held it in their predictions so long."

Because the trailer only recently premiered, perhaps? You make it sound like the trailer has been out for half a year and that it was obvious a Nichols/Hanks/Roberts/Hoffman/Sorkin film wouldn't be a contender.

Yes, but even after the trailer premiered, people still held onto it. A film isn't a frontrunner based only on pedigree of cast and crew. This felt like The Good Shepherd or Catch Me If You Can of this year. There's always one that comes along.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)