The unpleasantness began even before Neighbors 2 hit the screen.
The trailer for War Dogs screamed, “From the Director of The Hangover Series!” My face grew cold, and I started bawling. When Jonah Hill’s traditionally bleary-eyed, unshaven coconut hit the screen, my diarrhea broke out in diarrhea. The “your mom” joke that capped the piece had me combing my flak jacket for a cyanide capsule.
In other hands, the true life story of a pair of twentysomething burnouts who secure a $300 million government contract to supply weapons for U.S. allies in Afghanistan — it’s based on the Rolling Stone article by Guy Lawson — might have amounted to something had writer-director Todd Phillips chosen to do more than what appears to be perpetuating the Jeff Spicoli stereotype.
War Dogs Official Trailer
Hill has parlayed his two Academy Award-nominations (Moneyball, The Wolf of Wall Street) into a trio of cartoon voices (The Lego Movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and the upcoming Sausage Party), an inferior sequel to the preeminently unwatchable 21 Jump Street, a small role in a Cohen Bros. trifle (Hail Caesar!), and a more serious, if not successful dramatic turn in True Story. Not since Halle Berry traded her Oscar in for a Bond-kini and litterbox has a credentialed actor made so many lackluster career choices.
Now Hill’s back doing what he does best — shooting deer-in-the-headlights double-takes and stoner grins — and this time he’s taking another talented actor, Miles Teller, down with him. (It could have been worse. Jesse Eisenberg and Shia Labeouf were the first choices.) I’m sure the film was made to the financial pleasure of both actors, but in light of their combined talents, is this really the best they can do?
It’s not that I’m against stoner comedies. A couple of the Cheech & Chong pictures are surprisingly well put-together. And as a primer for teaching burnouts the evils of the Bush Crime Family, Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay was a hell of a lot more insightful than it had a right to be.
And at the risk of sounding like an old fart in the mud, if a film is going to receive an R rating for pot smoking and cocaine sniffing, why is it okay to depict both in an “approved for all audiences” green band trailer?
Originally set to open on March 11, the film has since been pushed back to August 19. I can hardly wait.