The forthcoming, Tina Fey-starring war comedy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot shares its title with an acclaimed book that is currently being adapted by HBO, and was previously adapted into an episode of The Good Wife and an episode of Scandal. So the whole story is a little played out. The same could be said for much of the comedy in the new trailer, which shows journalist Kim Barker (Fey) becoming a war correspondent in Afghanistan and Pakistan to emancipate herself from a tedious workplace and a needy boyfriend. You probably know what’s coming: Barker being lambasted by a passerby for walking around with her head uncovered, Barker partying hard with a bunch of other war correspondents and waking up hungover, Barker doing her business by the side of the road surrounded by a bunch of soldiers, etc. All of this culminates in Barker running through the middle of a firefight with a camera and feeling elated rather than terrified, because war zones are the perfect place to complete character arcs.
Originally called The Taliban Shuffle (a much better title) after the memoir by the real Barker, the movie’s biggest asset, judging from the trailer, is a charismatic cast, which includes Margot Robbie, Alfred Molina, Billy Bob Thornton, and Martin Freeman, who looks suspiciously like someone Barker will fall in love with at some point. Robbie gets one of the trailer’s biggest laughs with her deadpan acknowledgement that she transcends the hotness scale in the Middle East, a scene that ranks just above a shot of Barker trying to manage her notebook pages in high desert winds.
Plus, there’s another reason to be optimistic: Crazy, Stupid, Love directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are helming the production. Those two also wrote Bad Santa and wrote/directed I Love You, Philip Morris, so they know how to guarantee laughs while sneaking up on viewers with credible pathos—a crucial skill for making a warm, fish-out-of-water comedy where people are constantly dying just out of frame. Hopefully the reception to Whiskey Tango Foxtrot will be more “Foxtrot Yankee” than “Foxtrot November” when it’s released on March 4, 2016.