Margot Robbie is a little distracting, and I don't mean that in a positive way. She's misplaced glamour. I wished that the movie was a new take on an old story, but it was fairly paint-by-numbers. They didn't give Billy Bob anything to do which is always a shame.
Ficarra and Requa deliver a pleasant surprise that was mis-marketed as a comedy on release last spring. Instead we find a well scripted adaptation of the memoir by KIm Barker looking at a woman journalist's experiences in Afghanistan when the world's focus had turned to Iraq. Some light comedy here and there but Tina Fey does some heavier lifting dramatically this time around. Worth discovering.
For all its self deprecation it never rises far above the self-satisfied memoir of the journalist who has finally done something with their life. There's an uneasy Orientalising slant to it and at times in the last half hour it veers into some very crass territory indeed. Americans without passports might find it illuminating.
It's clear that this film is trying to be a smart dramedy, but it never really accomplishes being a successful comedy nor drama The comedic moments go too much into broad and silly territory. As for a drama, the central character never feels fully developed, and the filmmakers never settle on a proper story arc for her, starting various threads without fully realizing them.
Couldn't help but sit in the theater and realize this is the kind of film I was requesting when writing less-than-positive reviews of both "Hail, Caesar!" and "Our Brand is Crisis." I wanted more consistent humor, affable character relationships, and memorable performances to make up for the lack of focus. Here, Tina Fey and Margot Robbie are a comedic dream-team with some seriously strong dramatic convictions.