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Alpha Dog (R)





Release Date: January 12th, 2007 by Universal Pictures.
The Cast: Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Anton Yelchin, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Foster, Sharon Stone, Dominique Swain, Fernando Vargas, Lukas Haas, Amanda Seyfried, Bruce Willis. Directed by Nick Cassavetes.

BASIC PREMISE: When Jake (Foster) canít pay his debt to Johnny (Hirsch), Johnny and his buddies kidnap Zack (Yelchin), Jakeís younger brother, for ransom.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Alpha Dog opens in a gripping scene as the FBI interviews Johnnyís father (Bruce Willis) to find out about his sonís whereabouts and whether or not he knows Johnnyís involvement in the drug trade. Johnnyís gang includes Frankie (Timberlake) and Elvis (Hatosy) and, just like typical gangster, they love to bang hot chicks, drink alcohol and smoke a joint. Just watching them hang out and party together while cursing at each other and taking drugs diminishes some of the plot tension. In a particularly disgusting scene, Jake, another gangster, defecates on Johnnyís carpet. When Jake owes them drug money and canít pay up, Johnny and his pals kidnap his younger brother, Zack. At that point, everything gets out-of-control. They actually untie Zack and let him party with them, during which he develops an unlikely friendship with Frankie. Zack, claiming to be 17, manages to flirt with some babes at a party and show off his karate skills. The plot becomes suspenseful when Johnny brings up the idea to kill Zack, which Frankie refuses to take part in. Admittedly, none of the characters are particularly likable, even the parents, i.e. Jakeís mother (Stone), and the plot feels a bit tedious. However, the well-written script by writer/director Nick Cassavetes helps to add some authenticity and offers a few twists to hold your attention. Itís also worth mentioning that Justin Timberlake gives a decent performance and even provides some well-needed comic relief before the plot turns very dark and intense in the riveting third act.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: None, other than the obvious fact that taking drugs can make you do stupid things.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Occasionally tedious.

NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1

IN A NUTSHELL: Occasionally tedious, but mostly suspenseful with an authentic, well-written script and convincing performances.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater


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