Charlie Wilson’s War, starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, is a fun romp of a movie about a not-so-serious man who winds up having a serious effect on American foreign policy–specifically by helping allocation funds to the CIA to help conduct a secret war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. This is a comedy, folks, and as such it eschews the use of nuance and complete historical accuracy. (Books like Ghost War, for example, call Wilson a crackpot who did indeed focus attention on the plight of Afghan freedom fighters, but who also was seen by the CIA as a loose cannon. Also, according to that book, Wilson’s contribution was not as significant as others would have you believe.)
Hanks and Hoffman are fine in this movie, but you begin to wish about a third of the way through that the Roberts character–a right-wing, old-money fundraiser from Texas–would have been played by a non-star. The broadness of acting and the face recognition Roberts brings to the role tends to throw things out of balance. Still, as breezy, fun movies go–and the two qualities are not to be scoffed at with so many bad Hollywood movies out there–Charlie Wilson’s War is a hoot. Just remember you’re entering fantasyland when you rent it.