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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “‘Alpha Dog’ is all bark, no bite”

    the mistake of appearing in the same film as Justin Timberlake. They could give the best performances of their lives and no one would care.
    the mistake of appearing in the same film as Justin Timberlake. They could give the best performances of their lives and no one would care.

    Singer Justin Timberlake has proven he’s got the chops to do comedy with SNL skits like “”Dick in a Box,”” but Timberlake’s dramatic career has not been quite as stellar so far. His first film, “”Edison,”” went straight to DVD. His attempt to channel a street thug in “”Alpha Dog”” at least made it to the big screen.

    Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) and his gang of drug dealer friends (including Justin Timberlake as “”Frankie””) rule the drug world of Southern California. They’ve got more ladies and weed than they know what to do with. However, that doesn’t mean Truelove is willing to overlook a huge debt owed to him by a customer. In order to assure that the client Mazursky (Ben Foster) will pay up, they find his younger brother Zack and kidnap him.

    Here’s where “”Alpha Dog”” gets bogged down in a story that doesn’t go anywhere: the boys don’t know quite what to do with Zack once they’ve kidnapped him. They expected Mazursky to be so overcome with grief that he’d do anything to get his brother back. Instead he leaves it up to the police to take care of Truelove. They are then left with a

    “”Alpha Dog””
    Rating: R
    Length: 117 minutes
    Production Company: Universal

    kidnapped kid who’s worth nothing. What’s even worse is that Truelove finds out that everyone involved could be facing life in prison. The whole crew starts freaking out, and things begin to go awry.

    The problem with choosing young actors to play “”gangsters”” is they can’t quite channel the bravado needed. It just feels like little boys playing dress-up in their dad’s clothing. The real Jesse James Hollywood and his crowd, on whom “”Alpha Dogs”” is based, might have been tough, but the ensemble cast playing them comes off as anything but that. The director must have thought that making the boys grow facial hair and using fake tattoos would be enough.

    The film employs a couple of techniques that are never quite explained, whichleaves the viewer confused. It kicks off with an interview with Truelove’s dad (Bruce Willis), but then doesn’t use the interview method again until almost the end of the film. The interviews are pointless and don’t do anything to further the plot.

    In addition, as Zack encounters more people during his kidnapping, they put captions up like “”Witness 1.”” Documenting the time and place or the witness number seems irrelevant. A court scene is never even used, so these facts become unimportant. The various witnesses are mostly extras in the background and never mentioned again after their five seconds onscreen. If this had been more fleshed out and the plot had explained how the captions had come into use later with identifying the criminals, it would have actually been a good device. But instead it just seemed pointless.

    Every mobster movie has aspirations to be the next “”Scarface,”” but the only movie that can really be that good is “”Scarface.”” It’s hard to channel Al Pacino when you’re nothing but a little boy.

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