Mike Nichols’ stagy direction and Aaron Sorkin’s talkative writing join forces for stilted War on Terror-related dramedy with Charlie Wilson’s War, a based-on-true-life tale about the East Texas senator, Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks), who almost single-handedly spearheaded American funding of Afghan rebels in their 1980s conflict against the invading Soviets. Nichols’ primary focus is comedy, and his material occasionally hits upon some mild joviality thanks to Hanks’ endearingly smarmy performance as the boozing, womanizing ne’er-do-well Wilson (a kindred spirit of Primary Colors' Bill Clinton-ish Jack Stanton) and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s massive scenery chewing as Wilson’s accomplice, straight-shooting CIA agent Gust Avrakotos. However, despite a brisk pace, Nichols’ helming feels either stiff or overly cute – or both, such as during a scene in which two different parties take turns entering Wilson’s office through different doors – while Sorkin’s script stuffs every character’s mouth with the same style of erudite, rapid-fire insider jargon that made his West Wing such a chore. Julia Roberts coasts on her movie star smile and her trim bikinied bod as the religious Republican power player who helps spur Charlie to undertake his Cold War mission. Yet neither she nor her illustrious co-stars can compensate for a facile screenplay without many laughs or insights into our government’s inner workings, nor a tacked-on, weakly argued, thoroughly pedantic coda (and redundant text postscript) that – via its insinuation that we have only ourselves to blame for Osama Bin Laden and 9/11 – reveals the turgid lecture lurking just beneath the film’s good-humored façade.