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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Review: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot fails to fully unfold its comedic roots

Based on real-life journalist Kim Barker’s memoir “The Taliban Shuffle,” “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” initially feels like a cushy comedy with real laugh-out-loud moments and cleverly executed jokes, sprinkled in an otherwise deadly war-zone backdrop. However, the second half drags on with no real purpose other than to scoop out conflicts that feel detached from the plot.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

The film opens in 2006, exposing the sweat-drenched party scene that Kim Baker, played by Tina Fey, engages in as deafening booms make the walls tremble, allowing the audience a slight peek of the imminent dangers lurking in Kabul. Just as quickly, it cuts back to 2003, the year Baker reluctantly decides to take her career out to Kabul as one of the few “childless and unmarried” employees in her circle.

This ensues a series of cringe worthy, yet genuinely amusing mistakes that Baker falls victim to, such as unknowingly carrying a bright orange backpack that screams unwanted attention and failing to cover her head when she first arrives in Kabul. This causes a nearby Afghan woman to yell “shameless whore” quite passionately to her face.

Add to that an awkward romantic encounter with a needy British journalist, played by Martin Freeman, a loud-mouthed bombshell reporter, played by Margot Robbie who immediately befriends and exposes Baker to party culture and a government official hinting at sexual offers- all of which push Baker to question her character and what her job truly entails.

All the while, she scrambles to cover juicy bits as a budding journalist should. If it means hauling herself out of vans during a shootout and hiding behind the Marines to capture footage, so be it.

Fey’s usual self-deprecating humor works well with her character as expected. With Baker, she infuses an air of adult innocence and slight bewilderment at the absurdity of her situation, giving the character more flavor. Although her emotional range is limited, she carries the film with finesse.

The real laugh-out-loud moments though, are fired by her translator Fahim, hilariously played by Christopher Abbott. With precise comedic timing, Fahim uses her inability to speak the language to his advantage, saying that the woman who called Baker a whore was actually welcoming her to the country.

Unfortunately, the film starts unraveling into a scattered mess, launching Baker into several conflicts that could have been woven neatly in the first half of the plot. The betrayal, panic and final lesson of letting go and moving forward that Baker experiences are told in a mundane set of events that feel disconnected and out of place.

It’s a pity though, considering the movie starts with so much promise. While “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is available for showings now, eager moviegoers can definitely wait until it’s out of theaters to see it.

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