226th Movie Review: Alpha Dog (2006)

An average film with a noteworthy cast

You can’t expect greatness in a movie where you’ll hear the f-word and it’s derivatives 411 times, and that’s exactly the case with Alpha Dog, a movie centered on a bunch of drug dealers who are afraid to do jail time after facing a lot of trouble. Although, they weren’t sentenced because of the drugs, but because they kidnapped a 15-year-old kid who they actually didn’t want to hurt. In fact, they even took care of him and got him in parties!

1999, Claremont, California. Middle-class kids, in their 20s, talk trash, wave guns, hang out in a pack. Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch), drug dealer and son of a underworld figure (Bruce Willis), threatens Jake Mazursky (Rob Foster), an explosive head case who owes Johnny money; Jake responds by breaking into Johnny’s house. On impulse, Johnny and a couple pals kidnap Jake’s 15-year-old brother, Zach (Anton Yelchin). Zach’s okay with it, figuring his brother will pay the debt soon. Johnny assigns his buddy Frankie (Justin Timberlake) to be Zach’s minder, and they develop a brotherly friendship. Zach parties with his captors as things begin to spin out of control, and ends up being killed. -jhailey @ imdb

Alpha Dog is a drama based on the life of Jesse James Hollywood, a drug dealer who became one of the youngest men ever to be on the FBI’s most wanted list. They just changed his name and created a fictional story based on him. It was hard to understand the “language” of drug dealers at the start, but as things picked up, I slowly got used to it.

Sometimes, it feels like there’s too much going on but the pacing is still slow. Most parts were draggy so I had to speed things up with my VLC player to go on with the story. The content is actually good; and as Rotten Tomatoes said it, it was a “a glossy yet unflinching portrait of violent, hedonistic teenagers.”

While some things failed to pique my interest, I was also amazed by the unusual cast. It ranges from young stars like Amanda Seyfried, Emile Hirsch, Olivia Wilde, Justin Timberlake, Anton Yelchin to veterans like Ben Foster, Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone. Justin Timberlake had a breakout performance that went under the radar because the film lacked buzz as it came out in theaters. It was also my first time seeing Emile Hirsch in a movie and I thought he did a good job.

Bruce Willis was a waste. He appears at the intro and the end but disappears everywhere else, not even leaving a trace. Amanda Seyfried looked like like she was the only one in the ensemble who felt awkward while playing her role. I mean, Olivia Wilde pulled it off as Johnny Truelove’s girlfriend, but Seyfried looked too dolled up and beautiful as a stoned teenage addict; but still, the best scene in the movie was her hot pool scene with Zach (Anton Yelchin) and another blondie that I don’t remember. What I do remember is that the three of them stripped off. Olivia Wilde also had some “bare moments” with Hirsch, and she even went down under (if you know what I mean).

Alpha Dog is a movie that you may find interesting but if you ask me to watch it again I don’t think I could. This is one of those “once and I’m done” type of movies that wasn’t really bad, but didn’t muster enough firepower to make someone replay the whole thing. It’s just average, and we’ll leave it at that.

GRADE: C+

I agreed with the majority

External Ratings:

Rotten Tomatoes: 55% Fresh, 5.5/10 Rating

Internet Movie Database: 6.9/10 User Rating

Metacritic: 53/100

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