Now we owe Cusack


War, Inc.

Directed by Joshua Seftel,

Written by Mark Leyner, Jeremy Pikser, and John Cusack

107 min., R, 2008

If there is anyone left who approves of the Bush administration’s war policies, they won’t like “War, Inc.” If there are people who don’t like savage political cartoonery, they won’t like the film either. Everybody else should rush to get a ticket while, or if, they are still available. In Dallas, there has been no promotion and only two showings daily. My movie buddy and I only became aware of it after reading a short but pointed review blasting it as a total failure at criticizing Bush policies. That tipped us off, and we were glad that we remembered, in time, that capitalist reviewers in capitalist newspapers can’t or won’t write positive reviews of anti-capitalist movies. Viewers who can’t relate to movies that mimic cartoons have only themselves to blame if they can’t understand “War Inc.” The subtitle is, “An incendiary political cartoon.”

But, ah, for the rest of us! Cusack and his able anti-warriors have produced what must be called a masterpiece. Like the best version of “Mad” comic books, there are jokes in every frame. There are jokes within the jokes, and every one is a barb for the Bushites and um-um-um for the moviegoers.

The setting for the film is “the first war totally outsourced to private enterprise.” Everybody plays parodies of their usual roles. It is especially striking to see dramatic star Sir Ben Kingsley get down as a redneck villain and Hillary Duff (from Disney’s “Lizzie McGuire,”) play a foul mouthed soul-selling sex siren.

There aren’t very many, but there are a few movie makers who deserve some loyalty. Tim Robbins, who was largely responsible for “Cradle Will Rock,” Stanley Kubrick of “Dr. Strangelove,” Humphrey Bogart of “The Black Legion,” and, of course, Charley Chaplin come to mind. With “War, Inc.,” actor/writer/producer John Cusack joins the tiny list of those who have brought something beyond commercial exploitation into theaters.

Hopefully, “War Inc” will bring you in, too.