‘Wilson’s War’ a profane, wild romp of a great movie | NevadaAppeal.com

‘Wilson’s War’ a profane, wild romp of a great movie

Sam Bauman
Entertainment Editor

When I read and reviewed George Crile’s 2003 book “Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History,” I found it to be a fun look at a drunken congressman who put Stinger antiaircraft missiles in the hands of the mujahedeen fighting Soviet aggression in Afghanistan. Never did I think it would become a major American movie, warts and all on display.

Well, it has and it is an absolute blast, from the opening scene of Charlie Wilson, D-Tex., in a hot tub with a Playboy Playmate catching a Dan Rather broadcast from Afghanistan about the plight of the mujahedeen fighting Soviet Hind helicopter gunships with World War I Enfield rifles and being devastated.

Tom Hanks is cast improbably as Wilson, but he grabs the role and runs with it, booze in hand most of the time, women in hand at other times. He is droll, he is witty, he is a mountebank and he is great fun.

His associate in arming the mujahedeen is Julia Roberts as Joanne Herring, a Texas socialite who hates communism with a passion. This is Roberts in a smashing blonde hairdo, swank clothes and wonderful combination of beauty and talent. A scene where she is doing her makeup after a tumble in the hay with Wilson is a gem. He’s in her hot tub and watching as she carefully separates her massacred eyelashes with a bent safety pin.

Then there’s Philip Seymour Hoffman as CIA agent Gust, out of sorts with CIA bosses and only too happy to join Wilson in a fight to get the weapons to the mujahedeen. Wilson is made a believer after a visit to Afghanistan displaced camps and he vows to boost the CIA funds for arms for the mujahedeen from $5 million to $50 million and eventually to $500 million.

This is the kind of movie that used to have a chance of winning an Academy Award, but probably the profanity, nudity, burlesque of the Congress and the CIA kill its chances. That’s too bad because this is probably the best movie of 2007, with Mike Nicholas as director and written by Aaron Sorkin, writer of “The West Wing” on TV. The film was nominated in 2007 for five Golden Globe Awards, including “Best Motion Picture.”

It’s playing at the Galaxy. Do not miss it.


The alternate lifestyle rebels have put tickets on sale for next year’s fun fest on the Black Rock Desert up Gerlach way. They’re selling 10,000 tickets at $210 each, another 10,000 at $225 and 10,000 more at $250. No tickets will be sold at the event gate, a change from the past. First-day sales are Jan. 16 at 10 a.m. Online sales end Friday Aug. 22. Tickets sold after July 31 will be held at the event gate. Mail order ends June 30 at P.O. Box 864688, San Francisco, Calif., 94188-4688. Visit tickets.burningman.com. Tell them Sam sent you.


Big Bad Voodoo Daddy rocks the stage at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe tonight and Friday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $37.50 plus tax. Special dance areas will be set up in the South Shore Room. Tickets are available at (800) 427-7247 or http://www.harrahs.com.

Neil Sedaka follows Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Harrah’s with tickets $95 and $75 plus tax. Call (800) 786-8208 for the Sedaka show.

Big Head Todd and the Monsters play at the Sparks Nugget Saturday and Sunday, tickets are $45 for the 8 p.m. show.

The Pioneer Family Dance on New Year’s Eve will be at the Brewery Arts Center, 449 W. King St. Monday from 8 p.m. to midnight. Potluck snacks and desserts, champagne or cider at midnight included in price of $12 for adults, $6 kids. Caller is Tom Thoreau, the band will be The Jigs Up. Call 830-7939.

New Year’s Eve entertainment in the MontBleu Theatre will be a roaring good time with The Magic of Rick Thomas in the 1,400-seat MontBleu Theatre at 9 p.m. Tickets are at (800) 648-3353 or at http://www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are $25 Dec. 27-30 and $35 on Dec. 31. MontBleu Resort will feature “Midnight Blu,” with all night in-and-out privileges at Opal Ultra Lounge, Blu Nightclub, and the resort’s 14,000 square-foot Convention Center. The Convention Center blow-out starts at 10 p.m. with live music from Afrodisiac and balloons dropping at midnight. Tickets are $75 in advance for all three parties and $100 on the day of through Ticketmaster.com or by calling 588-3515, ext. 6151.

Tons of other shows at the casinos and around town, so no excuse accepted for staying at home and watching the ball come down.

• Contact Sam Bauman at 881-1236 or Sbauman@nevadaappeal.com.