They grew up together in the suburbs of LA, living their own version of the American dream, with every day a blur of partying and looking for the next thrill. Johnny (Emile Hirsch, Lords of Dogtown) is the leader in their ... more »sordid world of drugs, greed, power and privilege. But when he is double-crossed by another dealer, things quickly begin to spiral out of control, and an impulsive kidnapping leads to a shocking conclusion. Justin Timberlake (Edison), Sharon Stone (Bobby) and Bruce Willis (Lucky Number Slevin) co-star in this powerful and controversial film.« less
"Johnny Truelove (Hirsch) is pushing weed to local teenagers and everything seems to be fine in his quiet life till his authority is questioned by a fascist jew(!) Mazursky (Foster) who furthermore is not giving Johnny back $1200 he borrowed. Truelove and his friends then kidnap Mazursky's 15-year-old brother Zack (Yelchin) and hold him as a hostage. Zack is OK with being a hostage - parties, booze, weed and girls are definately better than sitting home with wonk parents. Everybody's having a great time, kids fool around and it seems like we observe ordinary teenagers' life, only sometimes captions appear at the sides of the screen calling every new character number next witness. And it makes you feel uneasy. We know the film is based on true events, hence we know something bad will happen, but till the very end I personally refused to believe it actually will.
Alpha Dog is a movie about a crime which was commited not by some malicious intent, but rather by an absolute bluntness and with a total recklessness of the characters involved. These 20-year-olds behave like small kids - having commited something bad they are afraid of upcoming punishment and descend deeper into crime. They don't believe themselves they're capable to do something terrible and they can't stop when it's not yet too late. They are just a bunch of silly kids hence the outcome is utterly disturbing although we saw it coming.
Alpha Dog is a remarkable film, but to tell the truth - it's overshadowed by such works as The Chumscrubber or Bully. Nick Cassavetes did a great job, but still Larry Clark's movies, for instance, have a greater impact on you. Alpha Dog's impact is based more on the fact that all the ivents shown here really happened some time ago. And I'm sure they still take place in different corners of our world. So it's another flick for you if you want to know what modern youth is. It won't leave you indifferent for sure."
When the parents are away...
Movie_Fan | Texas | 04/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The movie is based on the true story of the kidnapping of Zack Mazursky (Yelchin) by "drug dealer" Johnny Truelove(Hirsch) and his "posse". The basics is that they kidnap the 15 year-old kid so that his older brother pays up the 1200 dollars he owes Truelove. But the whole plan goes awry and Zack ends up being killed.
In itself the movie isn't that original. It's themes we've already seen a million times : the disenchanted, bored youth who play drug dealers in California. But what makes this different is that it's a true story, and that fact alone turns the movie into a dark, almost horror, story that ends up haunting you and staying with you long after the end credits. This actually ends up saving the movie from itself, not turning it into another one of those horrible laugh-out-loud movies like "Havoc". What helps is also the opening credits, where when you reach the end you end up asking yourself "how did they get from there to here?"
The acting is average. It's not bad but there aren't that many great performances. The breakout star in all of this would probably have to be Justin Timberlake who shows he can act and gives an emotional level to the story, without which the movie would be doomed. I think most of it has to do with the script though, because you seriously have to wonder if they actually talked like that. Sharon Stone is also fairly decent as Zack's mother, that is until the end. Another honorable mention would have to be Ben Foster who just chews up the script.
But as Bruce Willis' character so insightfully points out, this movie is really about parenting...bad parenting at that. It's another movie that shows what happens when the parents don't give a damn and let their kids run all over the place and do whatever they want. But throughout the movie I also really wanted to slap the kids for taking stupidity to a whole new level, which is frightening considering it's based on a true story. The only other negative point about the movie is that it runs about 15 minutes too long, with Sharon Stone's last scene that fails to inspire compassion and sadness at the whole situation and ends up being just ridiculous.
On the whole it's a decent movie worth seeing once and that won't leave you indifferent."
Gutsy and brilliant
SRV | Austin, Texas USA | 02/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Recently our cinemas have been packed with high concept "product" that caters to the lowest common denominator of entertainment and to the least discriminating film goer. What this says about our culture is distrubing at best. How thrilled I was then to see Nick Cassavetes brilliant "Alpha Dog." It must have taken guts to make a film this bold and unrelentling. From the opening credits with the late Eva Cassidy's haunting rendition of "Over The Rainbow" to the final denouement I was entertained, laughed, cried and moved beyond imagining. Justin Timberlake was very good as was Anton Yelchin. Ben Foster looked like he was living the part of the drug addled Jake. Robert Fraisse's cinematography was stunning as well. Southern California's sun drenched decadence gleamed like a jewel unable to concel the rot at it's core. This is a movie people will love or hate. All the best ones are like that. Nick Cassavetes is taking an interesting path in his work and I'm looking forward to what he has in store for us next."
Say Goodbye to Hollywood.
Mike Liddell | Massachusetts | 04/27/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I stumbled across Alpha Dog the other night on cable and found myself wrapped up in the true life teen gangster story along the lines of Larry Clark's Bully, although lighter and funnier. Dog is filled with young acting talent reminiscent of The Outsiders - The Complete Novel (Two-Disc Special Edition) combined with strong seasoned performances by Sharon Stone, Bruce Willis, and Harry Dean Stanton.
Dog, directed by Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook (New Line Platinum Series)), who also played bad guy Packard Walsh in the so bad it's good 80's movie The Wraith. Amazon already does an informative write up, which talks about Cassavetes own run in with the law for his contact with the real life character behind Johnny Truelove, still on the F.B.I's ten most wanted list at the time of the film. I found that interesting. Although I disagree with their interpretation of Foster's character Jake, which I'll address.
The story, based on actual events, follows a group of suburban kids who watch music videos, act tough, drink 40's, smoke cheeba, disrespect people, and talk shiite. The leader of this crew is Johnny Truelove played by Emile Hirsch, who seems to get better with every role, and gives his best performance a year later in Into the Wild. Johnny is a smooth manipulator but gets most of his respect from his family ties, also surrounding himself with idiots doesn't hurt.
In this movie of solid performances it is Ben Foster's Jake Mazursky that steals the spotlight, as he did in similar fashion from Russel Crowe and Christian Bale in the western 3:10 to Yuma (Widescreen Edition) with his portrayal of Charlie Prince. Amazon describes Foster's character Jake as a scum bag drug addict. I disagree. There is no doubt he has a drug problem, and problems in general, but in a time when most just talk trash, Jake actually follows through. In some aspects I saw him as a stand up guy, or would be without drugs, and has a fearlessness that other men can respect, under different circumstances he could have been a leader. Ben Foster does a great job showing rage in this part with words or without. Justin Timberlake also gives a good performance as the mostly obnoxious, with hints of charisma, Frankie Ballenbacher.
The basic plot is Jake owes Johnny Truelove money. Johnny tries to disrespect Jake like he does with his other friends, but Jake isn't his other friends, and it continues to escalate from there. The crew decide to teach Jake a lesson and kidnap his younger brother, whom Jake is close with. This sets a chain of events sometimes fun and entertaining but ultimately tragic. "
Reminded me of BULLY
Chris Kennison | Jefferson City, Mo United States | 05/08/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"ALPHA DOG is a strong film that reminded me of a film called BULLY that was similar, but not given much publicity. ALPHA DOG seemed to me to be a more commercial film that got more publicity and had big stars like Bruce Willis & Sharon Stone giving it clout.
That isn't a bad thing. ALPHA DOG is a frightening film based on a true story and its greatest gift is its closeness to reality and how kids go through life thinking with blinders on. They don't see the big picture. They don't realize the consequences of their actions from minute to minute. Everything we do has an effect and repercussions. Teenagers have an aura of invincibility. In the case of ALPHA DOG, we get to see those aura's exposed.
The only thing that I was disappointed with was the absence of Jake Mazursky (Ben Foster) from the end of the film. He was probably the most interesting character in the film. He walks through the movie with an unabashed intensity that explodes at will. After he walks into a party looking for his missing brother and ends up introducing a slew of party goers to his black belt, he is pretty much gone from the film.
Although I do realize that the movie was based on a true story, so inserting him in the end would have taken away from the truth.
Fortunately though, this movie is given its life by Nick Cassavetes' screenplay and direction, a solid young cast (including a solid performance by Justin Timberlake) and a solid veteran cast.
Alpha Dog is a really good film and a lesson in life and its undeniable consequences. Not to mention, should be a wakeup call to all parents who don't know where there kids are at night and the things they could be getting into."