LIKE BLACK LICORICE or the PT Cruiser, Jonah Hill is divisive. I have friends who can’t get enough of his potty-mouthed braggadocio, and others who only watch his movies on the off chance there might be a scene where he gets punched in the face. War Dogs, his latest odyssey of swearing, sex workers, and spreadsheets, probably isn’t going to change your mind either way, but it’s a damn good time if you’re picking up what Hill’s putting down.
Similar to The Wolf of Wall Street, War Dogs spins the heavily narrated rags-to-riches story of Hill and Miles Teller, a pair of badly tanned sociopathic dirtbags who make it big running guns via a dodgy Pentagon procurement website. If that sounds a bit like 2005’s arms trade fable Lord of War (from back when Nicolas Cage and Jared Leto were approximately 9,000 percent less crazy), well, those d-bags were Russian and fictional, and these d-bags are Floridians and not. So... that’s something. Director Todd Phillips (Old School) has reliable comic timing and a good eye, but he’s throwing himself at some weighty topics. The film suffers by comparison to both Wolf and Lord, which were better at blending human drama and problematic behavior with fairly complex issues like dubious international finance and the economic practicalities of modern warfare.
Bottom line, if you’re cool with watching Hill do rails of cocaine off increasingly expensive furniture, this film will not disappoint. If you’re fine with watching loathsome men brought low by hubris and raised even higher with more cocaine, well, the guy who made all three Hangover movies has your back. If you are just looking to see Jonah Hill get punched in the face, that also happens, so it seems like everyone wins here.