Box art for Wag the Dog

Wag the Dog


After being caught in a scandal, the president does not have much of a chance of being re-elected.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 16
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Entertaining, creepily resonant political comedy.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that the president is accused of molesting a teenage girl. All of the main characters lie and work to defraud the voters in order to have their candidate re-elected. A woman sleeps with a man in order to advance their conspiracy. Conrad has a producer killed when he threatens to reveal the faked war.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about their reactions to the film's premise: Do you believe that the government is so desperate to stay in power that it would stage a war to do it? What are the correlations between the film and recent military attacks? This is also a good opportunity to teach kids to think critically about the messages the government is sending -- how do you judge for yourself whether a government policy is good or not? How do politicians use emotions to manipulate voters?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 18
    see all Wag the Dog reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Packed full of wickedly amusing details and expertly modulated performances.

- Andrew O'Hehir,, Saturday, January 1, 2000

Fresh: The picture conveys an irresistible pleasure in fakery for its own sake, and that's its charm.

- David Denby, New York Magazine, Saturday, January 1, 2000

Fresh: A bright idea well realized by director Barry Levinson.

- Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune, Saturday, January 1, 2000

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Yet, another brilliant movie from Barry Levinson I already watched besides 'Rain Man'... The story about president's sex scandal just a few days before election and they hire a great Hollywood producer for making an excuse to cover-up the scandals and it turns into a huge success... An Oscar nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay proves that the story of this movie was great... Yet, Dustin Hoffman gave another Oscar-worth performance to watch and he earned it by playing a successful Hollywood producer who never gets a credit for his work, but when his masterpiece for covering president's sex scandal was a huge success, he betrays the agreement and trying to tell the American of this masterpiece... Robert DeNiro and Anne Heche gave another great performance too, and the cast become more outstanding with another performance from Woody Harrelson, Denis Leary, Willie Nelson, even short William H. Macy performance... Overall, this movie was totally recommended by me as you will know a little more trick about making movies in Hollywood, but this movie has pretty much scenes with a long conversation and they talked about politics, so don't watch if you can't stand again politics movie before, even I admit I can't stand political movies before but I love this one...

- ajaymuthecooldevils, Saturday, October 30, 2010

2 stars

Clever idea but very poorly executed in my opinion. Nice to see Dustin Hoffman & Robert De Niro acting together though!

- SirPant, Tuesday, September 29, 2009

3 stars

A very observational satirical comedy that could have had more of an impact, if it had taken things more seriously. The film is still relevant today, as a White House spin doctor and a Hollywood producer team up in an attempt to cover up a sex scandal. They create a fake war/conflict with varying degrees of laughs. A fake bit of footage, a song or two and Woody Harrelson's convict/"war hero". De Niro and Hoffman are fantastic and are supported by a large array of talent in smaller roles. Wag the Dog shows how unscrupulous politicians and Hollywood producers can be. The scariest thing about this film is that it isn't too far fetched to believe something like this could happen

- kiriyamakazou, Saturday, August 22, 2009