Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Combining genres is no easy task for a screenwriter. The best way to do it is have one genre be dominant while the other one is just sprinkled in. A good example would be “Beverly Hills Cop.” It’s mostly a comedy, but has just enough action sprinkled in to combine the two genres. If you’ve seen the advertisements for Tina Fey’s new movie, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” opening today, March 4, you probably think it’s a new comedy. It’s actually a drama comedy, but the mixture is all off and the movie is a fail.

Cable news writer and producer Kim Barker (Fey) was in a rut in her daily life. So when the opportunity came along to be a field reporter, she takes it. The only catch is she has to go to Afghanistan. She gets what she wants, but finds it’s hard to get air time covering America’s “forgotten war.”

Does any of that sound funny to you? That’s the biggest problem with “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” it’s really a drama, with a little comedy put in, except the ingredients fail to mix. If Tina Fey was not involved, you have to wonder if this movie would be booked as a comedy at all.

The movie was written by Robert Carlock. Chances are you never heard of him. Before “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” he only wrote for television comedy. He was a writer for “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock.” It appears that Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels, a producer on this movie, decided to give him his first break as a screenwriter, but they picked the wrong guy to do it. The movie clearly can’t decide if it wants to be a drama, comedy or both and since no decision was made before Carlock started writing, the whole thing becomes a mess. There is one scene where Kim is taping a gun battle and you can’t tell if the scene is supposed to be funny or serious.

“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” was directed by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra. You may conclude another reason why the movie feels so disjointed was that it had two people directing it. However, these two have a successful track record as a directing team. Their last movie was Will Smith’s “Focus.” However, this is the first time the directing pair is working on something they did not write themselves. The movie would have likely been much better if they were hired to write it as well rather than giving it to Tina Fey and Lorne Michael’s friend.

All the acting is fine. If Tina Fey wanted to breakout and do a straight drama or another genre outside of comedy, she would likely find success. Unfortunately, in “Whisky Tango Foxtrot” you don’t feel any connection with her character or the movie itself. There are a few movies opening this weekend and this one should not be the choice you make. It is rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content, drug use and violent war images.