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Alpha Dog

Released: 2006

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 1 hr 57 min

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Nick Cassavetes

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Bruce Willis, Shawn Hatosy, Olivia Wilde, Sharon Stone, Ben Foster, Amanda Seyfried, Anton Yelchin

A film is based on the true story of the kidnapping and murder of 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz and related events in 2000. It portrays the involvement of Jesse James Hollywood, a young middle-class drug dealer in California.

This is an ugly film.

Review by: SteveRhodes

Added: 8 years ago

Like an actor's workshop at a community college where the instructor keeps screaming "Emote! Emote!" to the students, ALPHA DOG is two movies for the cost of one, although neither is worth your money or time. The first is a cheesy drug comedy in which the young cast chews up the scenery with reckless abandon. The second film, which occurs in the last thirty minutes, is a serious and cautionary tale about youthful bravado run amok. That the movie is based on a true story adds nothing to your viewing pleasure. This is an ugly film whose chintzy cinematography is well matched to the overacting of the players.

As the alpha dog in the story, Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) is a two-bit drug dealer who has lots of audacity but not much actual courage, preferring to let his guys do his dirty work. When one guy doesn't pay his debt, Johnny, on a lark, decides to "kidnap" the guy's younger brother, Zack Mazursky (Anton Yelchin), a kid who claims to be seventeen-years-old but is actually just fifteen. "Stolen boy," as Zack comes to be called during his one-day of capture, rather enjoys himself as the girls, the crack cocaine and the booze are freely distributed. Still, a crime is a crime, so all manner of woe will come to Johnny if he doesn't figure out a way to unkidnap the kid.

Along the way, the movie plays as a generic teen comedy -- but with heavier drugs than normal. The film also appears to be attempting to set some sort of record for the most tattoos in a single motion picture. Given the rampant bad acting, the result is that the tattoos remind one of an old circus sideshow. I kept waiting for the sword swallower and the bearded woman to appear. Even the office workers had tattoos any place not covered by their white shirts and ties.

In a silly attempt to remind viewers that the movie is based on a true story, labels are flashed on the screen giving numbers to each of the witnesses to the abduction. But these subtitles go by so fast that they are more like subliminal messages than real information for the audience.

The f-word laced script has little to say, so it attempts to use every clichéd phrase it can think of. Also in this lame excuse for film are such older stars as Bruce Willis, Harry Dean Stanton and Sharon Stone, but their inclusion in the cast in no way saves this miserable movie.

ALPHA DOG runs 1:57. It is rated R for "pervasive drug use and language, strong violence, sexuality and nudity" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.