Growing tired of her mundane desk job as a copywriter for a major news corporation, Kim Baker (Tina Fey) decides to accept a newly vacated position and flies to Kabul, Afghanistan. It’s there where she joins a team of reporters featuring Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie) and Ian MacKelpie (Martin Freeman) and together, they uncover stories of the atrocities surrounding the region.
As time goes by, Baker begins to feel more at home in Kabul. After learning that her boyfriend in New York had been cheating on her, she becomes increasingly daring and finds herself in riskier situations in one of the most female-unfriendly places in the world.
Based on Kim Barker’s autobiographical tale The Taliban Shuffle, this film notes the delusion that can be set upon people who hastily decide to leave behind real world normality for a sense of adventure in otherwise hazardous conditions.
The movie lands a few blows for women’s rights in the Middle East, with Tina Fey displaying a feminist perspective that trumps the macho tough-guy act which too often stains films set in the combat zone. However, it’s at its most interesting when you see how far detached from reality these group of reporters become. Nicknaming it the ‘Kabubble’, they are often running towardsexplosions and gunfire seeking the best shot. The reporters fetishize an unlikely home whereby most people would never set foot.
It’s much wiser than the title of the film suggests and I’m not sure it needed to be marketed as a comedy. For the most part it’s deadly serious and fairly haunting. It forces us to look at our addictive nature to adrenaline and outlines our incapability to differentiate when bizarre situations begin feeling normal to us.
This is perhaps Tina Fey’s best role since she played Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live, and it’s my vote for the best movie she’s made thus far. It’s nice to see her flex her dramatic muscles and play it straight on fascinating real-life journalist Kim Barker. Margot Robbie plays an interesting rivalrous friend and there’s also an interesting romance story driven by a charismatic Martin Freeman.
It’s a fascinating version of the combat-zone film from an altered perspective combined with a peculiar portrayal of living the single life abroad. Best of all, the movie doesn’t feel dull for a single minute.