Hopefully, it’s not too late to salvage Tina Fey’s film career. The widely beloved star of NBC’s now extinct 30 Rock has yet to really make her mark in celluloid, turning out one mediocre movie after another. On March 4, though, the comedy star will try her luck again with the war comedy, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which sees Fey taking on the role of Kim Barker, a foreign correspondent working in a war zone in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Best of all, it looks like this one might not actually suck.
Fey’s television chops are undeniable. Her time as head writer of SNL was the last time the show was remotely watchable, and 30 Rock stands as probably the best sitcom in recent memory. Unfortunately, with the exception of Mean Girls, whenever Fey has made the leap to theaters, the quality of her work suffers considerably. I mean, who honestly wants to watch Admission or Baby Mama for a second time?
Then there’s Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which may accidentally be good. Here’s the first trailer:
And here’s trailer number two:
Notice how both trailers make use of different scenes in the narrative? When you’re auditioning a potential comedy, that’s always a good sign since it indicates that the poor fool editing the trailer had lots of good bits to choose from.
Then, there’s the film’s pedigree, which is mostly exciting because it plays to Tina Fey’s strengths. Let’s disregard Focus, directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s last misguided attempt to break free of their comedy roots. In spite of these guys’ short collective résumé, they’ve put up two solid comedy films in Crazy, Stupid, Love and I Love You Phillip Morris. They’ve proven they can get good performances from their leads and that they understand the value of a decent story.
Even more exciting, the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot script has been written by longtime Fey collaborator and 30 Rock co-creator Robert Carlock, a guy who knows exactly how to use Fey’s acerbic wit and flustered charm to great effect.
Fey isn’t the only talent to show up on set, either. She’ll be backed by Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, and Margot Robbie (who might be set to have a pretty big 2016).
Sure, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot may have a March opening — which usually equates to zero faith from the studio — but that may have more to do with Fey’s box office performance to date than it does with the quality of the film. In other words, with a little luck, this may be Tina Fey’s first solid foray into film. Fingers crossed.