Alpha Dog  

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Alpha Dog
2006, in theaters

You should know
I don’t particularly like Justin Timberlake. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to se this movie. Dan and I had narrowed it down to this and Children of Men and Alpha Dog won the coin toss.

Also, just as a warning, if you are easily offended, you might want to avoid this movie. That said, beware possible spoilers ahead; while I’ll try to avoid major plot points, the movie is based on a true story, so it’s fairly easy to find out how it ends.

Well, let’s get that part out of the way first. What offends you in a movie? Sex? Try nudity, promiscuity, statutory rape, and threesomes. Violence? Gunplay, beatings, and murder. Language? Obscenity, profanity, racial and religious slurs, misogyny, and homophobia. Drugs? Marijuana and alcohol are constantly present. This is an R-rated movie and acts like it. Do not bring your children.

OK, that’s out of the way. The film is based on the true story of a young drug dealer who kidnapped the brother of a man who owed him money. If you click on the link to the story, the title alone will give away the ending. That doesn’t matter, though; Dan and I spent the movie seeing how it happened, and even knowing the story, the ending is shocking. I didn’t want to like the characters, but I felt for them. If you ask me, that’s good moviemaking.

That said, there were elements of bad moviemaking, as well. The montages, the true-crime-style subtitles, the interviews, the split-screens... director Nick Cassavetes needed to pick a style and stick with it, because each worked in its moment, but as a whole didn't add up well.

See it if…
…You won’t be offended. I already outlined the potential for offense. The cursing and drug use are pretty much constant, and the violence gets pretty disturbing at times – and there’s a few disgusting scatological moments, as well.

After the movie, Dan and I looked up the actual case the movie was based on, and it was pretty messed up – not something I should have been reading right before bed.

Oh, and just as an aside, that’s why I was late with this review – I got home from the movie at 1 AM. Sorry about that.

The rest of the Internet
The IMDb entry.
The reviews at Rotten Tomatoes aren't great.
Salon didn't much like it.
Neither did Rolling Stone.
The Wikipedia entry.
Todd Gilchrist at, Ben Erwin at the Daily Egyptian, and Ryan at Reel Opinions review the movie.

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