As I expected, CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR (***1/2), from director Mike Nichols and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, was a lot of fun. I read the script a few years ago, and while the final big-screen rendering is different in many respects to the draft that I read, it's a rollicking political comedy nonetheless. Sorkin's rat-a-tat dialogue is still firmly in place, and under Nichols' patient, undemanding direction, the film is breezy, smart, loose. The story of Charlie Wilson (a sly Tom Hanks), a hard-partying Texas congressman with numerous high-profile connections who personally jumpstarted the arming of Afghan soldiers during the Soviet invasion in the late 80's, is almost so crazy in its details that it feels like a tall-tale. As written by Sorkin, who's masterful blend of dense political jargon and stylized comedy writing is impossible to match, CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR is a history lesson that never feels academic. The film entertains well more than it preaches, and Nichols keeps the film moving at a brisk pace, never pausing for a dull moment. Philip Seymour Hoffman steals the picture every time he's on screen with yet another incredible performance, this time as a beleagured CIA agent. It's another raging, intense, and criminally funny piece of acting from one of cinema's best talents. While I wished that the film had stuck closer to the original script that I read, CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR registers as one of the best of the recent political films to hit movie screens over the last year.