War Dogs Struggles, but Jonah Hill Shines
'If only the rest of the film matched his talents'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2016 8:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – Director Todd Phillips of bro comedies like The Hangover and Old School takes a dramatic turn in War Dogs, based on the true story of two dudes from Miami who win a government contract to supply weapons to US troops. Critics agree it doesn't quite live up to its potential:

  • "It's an entertaining lark when it could have been a shattering indictment—of America, of these dudes, and the military industrial complex," writes Lindsey Bahr at the AP. While it "flirts with moments of greatness," it also "struggles to find the right tone, and instead of consistency goes for a more disjointed kitchen-sink approach that juggles satire, bro fantasy, and high-stakes thriller with varying results."
  • While he mentions the film's "uber-bro-ness," Barry Hertz spends much of his review praising Jonah Hill. He "washes away any memories of the actor's more clownish performances," he writes at the Globe and Mail. "It's a terrifying, towering performance, and one that would normally lend Hill toward Oscar consideration, if only the rest of the film matched his talents."

  • "The Wolf of Wall Street hinted at the great work Hill can do with the right antagonistic role, and War Dogs lets him steal the movie at gunpoint," agrees Brian Truitt at USA Today. The film's highlights include entertaining banter, "a gripping plot and enjoyably sketchy characters," he writes, noting Miles Teller and Bradley Cooper are also good.
  • Meanwhile, Mark Jenkins describes War Dogs as "an amusing if underachieving bad-boys farce" at NPR. The first hour is a rush, but then the flick falters. "Interlaced with the fact is much more fiction," and it "would probably have been more compelling if the filmmakers hadn't strayed so far from the true story."