WTF, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
'Messy' Tina Fey films lacks 'heft,' say critics
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2016 9:06 AM CST

(Newser) – Kim Barker's 2011 memoir The Taliban Shuffle hits the big screen with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, starring Tina Fey as a newbie war correspondent in Kabul, or as her fellow reporters call it, the "Ka-bubble." It's not a typical role for the Saturday Night Live alum, and critics are divided on her performance. Here's what they're saying:

  • This is "a war-set comedy-drama as messy and ineffective as an Afghan suicide donkey," writes Simon Houpt at the Globe and Mail. "Most of the rich absurdity" of Barker's memoir is lost. On top of that, "the dialogue is sour, the politics problematic (Broadway veterans as Afghan locals? Why not?!), and the sentiments sometimes eye-rolling," he says. "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, indeed."
  • The flick is "inherently watchable" and rare as "a woman's story of self-discovery," writes Molly Eichel at the Philadelphia Inquirer. There are also some "interesting points about Afghanistan's 'forgotten war' and how the media pay attention to foreign news." But this "isn't a great movie" and "lacks the emotional heft Fey can bring to a role." The script "never gives us a sense of who this woman really is."

  • Stephen Whitty argues the film might've had more impact if Fey had been replaced by a more serious actor. "Even with its occasional shifts between high-tension drama and slightly snarky comedy, this movie … plays it safe," he writes at the Newark Star-Ledger, adding "the script's plea for understanding and tolerance might carry more weight if the film actually cast some of its Arab and Afghan characters with Arab and Afghan actors."
  • Richard Roeper has a different take: "If this role isn't remembered as THE signature moment when we came to think of Tina Fey as an award-level dramatic actor as well as an iconic comic force, it's a substantial step in that direction," he writes at the Chicago Sun-Times, adding the film should "be commended for not turning every Middle Eastern character into a stereotype."
(Click for a recent candid interview Fey gave, including the topic of whether she'll ever do nudity.)