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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is a misfire

Boxofficemojo+reports+Whiskey+Tango+Foxtrot+expects+a+%2410-12+million+opening+weekend+gross.
Photo by By Jacob Martindale

Boxofficemojo reports “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” expects a $10-12 million opening weekend gross.

“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” carries an apt title, but it’s not necessarily the one I would’ve used. Yes, there’s plenty of whiskey, multiple tangos and least one foxtrot, but the arc of the film — in which a frustrated white woman “finds herself” through culture shock —  begs the title “Eat, Pray, War.”

“Whisky Tango Foxtrot” is a war comedy-drama starring Tina Fey as Kim Baker, a desk journalist lampooned to Afghanistan and forced into the gritty world of war journalism. It’s a fish-out-of-water story based on the true memoir written by Kim Baker, Fey’s character — whose performance grounds the film. But as the story progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to pinpoint what it is trying to say.

“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” lacks focus. It bounces from conflict to conflict, refusing to identify the difference between a side plot and the main plot, and it suffers as a result. It feels aimless at times, pandering over and over again on the same party scenes, the same alcohol binges, the same rough mornings. It doesn’t create substantive conflict to rally around, so its payoffs don’t work. The climax is muted and the conclusion feels hollow.

This is understandable given the nature of the source material. Memoirs are inherently scattered in scope, as real life doesn’t present itself in narrative nuggets. But films are not memoirs, and different mediums require different approaches to storytelling. Adaptation is never an easy task, but that doesn’t make “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” any more interesting.

For a film starring comedian starlet Tina Fey, the humor is noticeably restrained. Jokes are rare, and when they appear, they aren’t always zingers. My audience sat stone-faced to many of the film’s laugh buffers, an uncomfortable silence only lengthened by each repetition. Instead, the bulk of the material here is dramatic, and when the story is so hard to identify, much of it is wasted.

In fact, the film uses a large portion of its running time on a roughly five-scene loop: Baker parties. Baker wakes up groggily. Baker goes for a drive somewhere. Something explodes. Baker processes the explosion. Repeat. It begins feeling that the film is wasting time in an effort to extend itself, which — given the nature of the Afghanistan war — only resonates ironically. This isn’t helped by the film’s stop-and-start pacing problems and undeserved running time of 111 minutes — I checked my watch six times before the credits rolled.

Ultimately, if there is any reason to see “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” it’s Tina Fey. Despite the film’s mediocre writing and lack of definitive plot, Fey makes good use of what she’s given and demonstrates she can be taken seriously in a dramatic role. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her pick up further serious roles in the future. But beyond that, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is a misfire.

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