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MOVIE REVIEW: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Posted at 6:26 AM, Mar 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-04 09:50:19-05

Tina Fey is human after all.

At some point, Fey's wicked wit and preternatural control of awkward hilarity would fail. It didn't happen through seven seasons of "30 Rock" or a dizzying string of box office smashes including "Baby Mama," "Date Night" and "Sisters." But it sure does in "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot."

The bland, drab war comedy proves to be the Waterloo for the brilliant comic. It figures, because this is the rare project Fey didn't have a hand in writing. If the movie's failure proves anything, it's that Fey works better as a full-spectrum force who is just as effective behind the camera as in front of it. 

The movie is based on a true story -- the autobiography by war reporter Kim Barker -- and that figures, too, because the movie's events are so dull that they are painfully obviously extracted from the real humdrum life of a foreign correspondent.

As dry as an opened pack of military rations left to bake under the Kabul sun, "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" strands Fey in a desert of dullness, rendering her appeal AWOL.

As Baker, a bored TV producer who jumps on the opportunity to cover the conflict in Afghanistan for the network. Facing institutional sexism at every turn, not only from the Sharia customs of the culture but from U.S. military gruffness. 

She somehow finds herself and unearths a buried passion while she's a broad abroad, despite spending most of her time unsuccessfully straining against the stiff infrastructure meant to keep everyone from media to politicians stuck in the same uncomfortable place. Failing to make much headway as a journalist, Baker embarks on her own "Eat Pray Love"-style journey of self discovery, only more akin to "Drink Flail Lust." Long, hard-partying nights out, desperate hookups and kidney-destroying booze swilling amount to Baker's journey.

Since the plot goes nowhere, the movie lacks a dramatic thrust, and since the writing is so bland, there's little to laugh at. It's easier to identify with the cynical, acid-spewing commander played by Billy Bob Thortnon than the self-destructive, listless Fey character. "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" stays too true to its "WTF" abbreviation, leaving you shaking your head and regretting the experience.

RATING: 1.5 stars out of 4