War Dogs, B-
Rated R, 114 minutes
Typically, Hollywood takes cinematic license with real stories to make them far more interesting, and it's been done again with the charming, fact-based dramedy "War Dogs," based on a true story about two young guys who earn a tidy profit from selling guns to the U.S. Government. Except, this time, "War Dogs," which is directed and co-written by "The Hangover's" Todd Phillips, is likely a little tamer than its source material, even with a considerable amount of the real story changed. With the war in Iraq raging on, Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) offers childhood friend David Packouz (Miles Teller) a chance to make big bucks by becoming an international arms dealer. Together, they exploit a government initiative that allows businesses to bid on U.S. military contracts. Starting small allows the duo to rake in money and live the high life. They soon find themselves in over their heads after landing a $300 million deal to supply Afghan forces, a deal that puts them in business with some very shady people. Co-written by Phillips, Stephen Chin and Jason Smilovic and loosely based on Guy Lawson's book "Arms and the Dudes," the likable, relaxed "War Dogs" re-imagines the guys story as mostly a bro comedy with two young guys way over their head, with good, but not great, results. The real story made headlines because the overly ambitious Diveroli and Packouz (along with another stoner friend, who is not included in the movie) were in their early twenties; while Teller and Hill have memorable chemistry together, it lacks a sense of outrageousness the real story possesses. While these two are solid - though they look nothing at all like their real counterparts - it still would've been more effective with two younger actors in the leads. The messy script is also filled with too much nonsense and unnecessary subplots with Packouz's personal life and Bradley Cooper's shady arms dealer, yet is peppered with some fun moments of driving through Iraq and selling arms to the government after smoking pot. "War Dogs" is fun while it lasts: it skims over the details and seriousness but is good enough for a night at the movies.