War Dogs is the new film starring Miles Teller and Jonah Hill. Miles Teller’s character, “David,” is not where he wants to be in life. He is a massage therapist and bed sheets salesman, and he wants to provide better and make more money. After a mutual friend dies, he is reunited with his old friend, Ephraim, played by Jonah Hill.
You could describe Ephraim and David’s relationship as explosive, with Ephraim influencing David into crazy situations that result in them manufacturing weapons for the U.S. government. After the pair get a record-breaking contract with the U.S. government, the movie takes a turn from being a more comedy-centric film to a more “Scarface” influenced film, with heavy influences from such films as “Goodfellas,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and “The Big Short,” while also trying to contain similar humor from director Todd Phillips’ “The Hangover” trilogy.
Going into this film, I was hoping to have two things accomplished: I wanted to laugh, and I wanted to learn something interesting to think about later. After seeing the trailers, now I would say they do a great job of showing the comedy bits, but not much of the interesting part. Director Todd Phillips is coming from a comedy background, much like Adam McKay, direct of Anchorman and last year’s Oscar-winning film “The Big Short.” While it didn’t accomplish what “The Big Short” did, “War Dogs” is a decent attempt for Phillips at making a “Scarface”-style movie.
Some positives first: the chemistry between Teller and Hill is extremely good. They have that bond at first that you did in high school where either you or your friend was the “bad influence.” However, this relationship doesn’t translate when you grow up. The story itself is very interesting, and I did come out feeling like I’d learned something. The standout performance definitely would be Hill, who feels very intimidating and lovable at the same time. Teller give a great performance as well, playing the straight man to Hill.
By adding humor to films like this, it can be tough to get a lot of the jokes to land in certain points of the story. It can either ease the tension of a scene or make the entire scene feel out of place, and with this film it can go either way. At times, particularly with Hill’s character, the jokes do land; however, Teller’s character was a little more flat on his delivery, although it was still a great performance. The pacing starts very slow and exposition heavy in the first act but really picks up. However, at times “War Dogs” feels more like a “Hangover” movie than what the film ultimately is trying to be.
It has flaws, sure, but “War Dogs” has a lot of good moments, and the performances really make it worth seeing. The movie did what I hoped it would do: make me laugh and be interested. I am going to give “War Dogs” a 7.5/10