Alpha Dog marks the film debut of Justin Timberlake in the story of suburban drug-dealers who bite off more than they can chew in a quest to add excitement to their vapid existence.
Based on true events, the movie chronicles the exploits of Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch, who I’d never heard of prior to this flick), a fake-ass thug who is a major weed supplier in California. Truelove and his band of idiots (including Timberlake) spend their days getting high in the California sun, having sex, pissing away their parents’ money, and generally behaving like disgusting pricks. When one of Truelove’s customers fails to make good on a debt, he decides to kidnap the guy’s younger brother Zack and hold him for ransom. The plot goes awry when Truelove, genius that he is, realizes that he’ll actually go to jail if he releases the hostage. What happens next is tragic and heartbreaking, as Zack is a naïve, sympathetic character. He’s out of his league with Truelove’s crew, failing to see that his demise is imminent.
Alpha Dog was wack as hell to me, partly because I think the individuals on whom the movie is based are lame. Every character is a shallow poser. I’ve heard that the film received critical praise at Sundance, and I’m astounded by that. Writer/director Nick Cassavetes has tried to present a psychological study of disaffected youth, but he’s failed miserably. Alpha Dog tries to be edgy, but just seems corny and ridiculous. The characters don’t have to be likeable (they’re actually deplorable), but it would be okay if they were at least interesting. They all seem like spoiled little shits, and as a viewer I could care less what happened to them. They weren’t even cool, despite Cassavetes’ lackluster attempt to make them bad-ass. Veterans Bruce Willis (Lucky Number Slevin) and Sharon Stone (Bobby) cannot save the movie with their supporting roles. Timberlake had his moments, but overall his acting was corny as well. He needs to work on his delivery…he might end up being a decent actor with a little more practice. If you want to watch a movie about white kids getting loaded and not giving a damn, rent Kids or Black & White.