Everything about the trailer for Charlie Wilson's War suggests an out and out comedy but in the hands of director Mike Nichols and West Wing screenwriter Aaron Sorkin
you should be warned that this film is designed to make you think just as much as it is there to make you laugh.
The premise is that congressmen/lathario/alcoholic Charlie Wilson is inspired to take on the Soviet Union without the help of the American military but with the help of a texan socilaite (Julia Roberts), a bored CIA agent (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and, what will, ironically, eventually become, the Taliban. The film kicks off with the talky talk that you would associate with Aaron Sorkin and sets the groundwork that while you may be in the cinema to see Charlie getting up to mischief, Charlie himself is much more distracted by the CBS news. And you should be too.
While it is fair to say that the film takes a little while to get going once it does it becomes close to the 'crackeryness' I promised in earlier reviews. It is also fair to say that this is because of one man, Gust Avrokotos, played with full gusto (yeah thats my bad pun over for this review) by Philip Seymour Hoffman. He is not only both the crudest and wisest character he also manages to lift the performances of everyone else around him. Whether he's chatting up Julia Roberts in appaling fashion or espousing words of wisdom such as his final "We'll See"speech the film only truly comes alive thanks to the man who is "No James Bond".
Closing with a quote by Charlie Wilson himself, ("These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world... and then we fucked up the endgame") you get the feeling walking out just how real the main hub of the film really was. And so we're back to the start of the review, thinking as much as laughing. Which in my eyes is a pretty good thing.