Dana Stevens in Slate:
Tom Hanks plays “Good Time” Charlie Wilson, a go-along-to-get-along Democratic congressman from a rural district in Texas. A hard-drinking womanizer with a sharp eye for foreign affairs, Charlie sits on the congressional committee responsible for funding covert military actions abroad. One debauched evening in 1980, soaking in a Vegas hot tub with a gaggle of coke-snorting strippers, he watches Dan Rather on TV covering the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Soon after, a fervently anti-Communist Houston socialite, Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts), invites Charlie to a fund-raiser for the cause of the mujahideen. The two skip out of the party for some (off-screen) Texas lovin’, and by way of pillow talk, Joanne convinces Charlie to take a meeting she’s arranged with the president of Pakistan, Zia ul-Haq (Om Puri).
Converted to the freedom fighters’ cause—or maybe just in love with the idea of bringing down the Red Army on his own—Charlie mobilizes a clandestine campaign to funnel resources and weapons to the Afghan rebels. With one well-placed phone call, he manages to double the appropriations budget, but even $10 million is a paltry sum when it comes to shooting down Soviet helicopters.