Community Relations Manager
KUNV 91.5 FM
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Despite my best efforts, I just couldnít hate Alpha Dog. I walked in
thinking that yet another movie was going to glamorize the world of drug
dealing and organized crime among youth, and thatís what the film did, but
at least it did it well.
Alpha Dog is based on the true story of Jesse James Hollywood (although
oddly enough, I donít remember ever seeing that in the opening credits) and
Emile Hirsch plays the main character, Johnny Truelove. Although Hirsch is
one of my favorite young actors, I was unimpressed by him in this film, and
it wasnít just because he played a scumbag. Hirsch lacked passion and
emotion, and just wasnít convincing overall. His character is a drug dealer
who decides on a whim to hold a 15-year-old boy hostage because his older
brother, Jake Mazursky (played by Ben Foster), owes Johnny money.
Ben Foster was fantastic in this film. He
played a high-strung, drugged-up nutcase, and totally convinced me. I was
pretty shocked when his character goes so far as to punch a woman in the
face at one point, but it was easy to understand how much rage he
experiences over the kidnapping of his brother. He was the standout
performance from this film, and there were some other good performances, but
for the most part they were mediocre at best.
The language is bad, but thatís to be
expected, how else are teenage gangsters supposed to talk? There was a
standard amount of topless females too, but I was pleasantly surprised to
see that the nudity was almost tastefully done. Almost. I donít know the
film was based on a true story, so I couldnít tell what had been embellished
and what truly happened, so itís hard to make judgments on the writing if
itís based on real events I know nothing about.
The strongest point of this film is all the
effects used to make it like a highly stylized crime documentary. The main
charactersí parents are interviewed by a reporter a few years after all the
kidnapping takes place, and the frame is split and different camera angles
are taken in each frame. I thought this style was very effective, and I
really enjoyed some of the cinematography. While Sharon Stoneís character
has a melodramatic breakdown in a poorly made fat suit, the camera stays
close, and the extreme close up is used pretty effectively (even if the
scene itself was ridiculous). It drew the audience in, and made them face
the atrocity of what happened. I found I couldnít look away no matter how
badly I wanted to most of the time. I would go so far as to call it
The trailers for this film depicted it as a
fast paced thriller, but in actuality, I found the plot slow and methodical.
Normally that would annoy me, but the slowness was a nice juxtaposition to
the horrible events taking place throughout the film. Overall, I was
affected by the story, and I honestly felt for a lot of the characters no
matter how screwed up they were.