Review: ‘War Dogs’ Aims For Satire And Stumbles Hard

Title: War Dogs
Director: Todd Phillips
Summary: Based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan.

There are two genres that I believe are not only hard to pull off but are often misunderstood. The first is camp and the second is satire. A genre that is even harder to pull off is satire but not as full blown comedy. I saw War Dogs and I was worried right away because it seemed like it was trying to do satire while also having mainstream comedic appeal and I’m just not sure those two things go together very well. While I have enjoyed Jonah Hill in the past I didn’t like director Todd Phillip’s previous movies or Miles Teller very much.

War Dogs aims for satire but is instead unfunny and inconsistent.

War Dogs

As someone who is a fan of dark comedy and satire I could see what War Dogs was going for. The poster was an obvious riff on Scarface and the entire situation is so over the top that it has to be true. There is a lot of comedy to be found in the audacity of real life but War Dogs wants to take that a step further. There isn’t much mainstream appeal in satire or dark comedy so the film tries to do too much.

Todd Phillips has previously done all three of the The Hangover movies which has a certain level of comedy that appealed to a certain demographic. War Dogs wants to bring in those people and the people that love satire but those two are hard to mesh together. Instead the juxtaposition doesn’t work. Whenever the movie would switch back to a more traditional comedy it felt out of place and when it tried to be darker it also felt out of place. It made for a film that feels very inconsistent, almost schizophrenic, in tone.

The movie isn’t completely bad. The performance that Jonah Hill gives is pretty spectacular as his character literally conforms to the people he is trying to extort. It means that he drastically changes from scene to scene but it never feels overly forced. It’s the subtle changes that a person who is truly good at manipulation would use. However, his performance wasn’t enough to save the movie for me. Miles Teller does not have the best comedic timing, and while the brief appearance of Bradley Cooper was pretty good he doesn’t stay long enough to make any sort of impact on the film overall.

War Dogs is one of those frustrating movies to review because while I overall didn’t like it I also didn’t like it so much that I left angry. It’s a film that I saw and immediately forgot. I couldn’t remember much of this movie not long after seeing it and I fear audiences will forget about it within a month.

Kaitlyn Booth
Kaitlyn Booth
Kaitlyn Booth is a writer, film critic, comic lover, and soccer fan based in Salt Lake City. She has covered such events as the Sundance Film Festival, San Diego Comic Con, and New York Comic Con and been a special guest and panelist at Salt Lake Comic Con and FanX. She has a deep fondness for female superheroes and independent film.