Alpha Dog (2006)

Biography, Crime, Drama
Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Willis
A drama based on the life of Jesse James Hollywood, a drug dealer who became one of the youngest men ever to be on the FBI's most wanted list.
A glossy yet unflinching portrait of violent, hedonistic teenagers. Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone chew the scenery, while Justin Timberlake gives a noteworthy performance.
  • Universal Studios Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 12 Jan 2007 Released:
  • 01 May 2007 DVD Release:
  • $15.1M Box office:

All subtitles:



Trailer:

A Great Film.8/10
Having learned about the "Jesse James Hollywood" case during my junior year in high school, I'll admit that I was actually extremely disappointed to find out that a film was being made depicting the events that had happened. However, I can now say, I think differently.

The basic premise, without giving too much away, involves a drug deal gone awry. Someone isn't paying Johnny Truelove, and that someone, just so happens to have a little brother. A naive, fifteen year old, little brother (played powerfully by Anton Yelchin) who just wants to live his life. The boy is kidnapped, and held as a sort of ransom, until Jonny gets his money from boy's brother. Johnny's friends become attached to the boy, and eventually, the boy learns a life lesson.

It may all sound played out and done before, but this film is electrifying in every sense of the word. It's hardcore. It's raw. It's at times gritty. (I felt some vibes from the Larry Clark film "Bully", with the whole "kids-doing-what-they-want-anytime-anywhere thing"). You feel as though you're watching these people's lives just crumble before them, making it all the more worse is the grim reality that's stuck in the back of your mind, reminding you that this is all true. Nick Cassavetes has created such a true-to-life depiction of what happened, that it's almost frightening. You won't want to look away.

There are a few downsides however, one being the running time, either the movie was too dragged out or was just moving too slow. To me, I felt as though it could have ended fifteen minutes earlier. There's also a lot of partying, however, this being a depiction of a real life set of teenagers' lives, I can see why it was so vital towards the film. These kids have parents who do as much as they do. The parents don't care what happens to these kids, which makes it all the more terrifying. These kids are on their own. They have nowhere to run and no one to turn to for help.

With an all-star cast, and top performances all around (not a fan of Justin Timberlake? You will be after this film. Trust me) this film is one not to be missed. The ending is so shocking, that it's a wonder I didn't expect it early on. 'Alpha Dog' is an emotional roller coaster that will have you glued to the screen right from the emotional opening credits.
Surprisingly good9/10
I got a chance to see a screening of this at Sundance.

This movie sucks you in, seduces you, entrances you, then whacks you over the head with a baseball bat.

It starts off fairly annoying... bunch of pimply-faced white wanna-be's spouting rapid fire ghetto speak with rap music blaring in the background. Eminem would be proud. I thought to myself, "oh no, here we go to one dimensional city...".

But after a while these characters became very likable. These are REAL characters, living a really dangerous life style. The effect is similar in Goodfellas... they're so bad, so annoying, but fascinating, and free in ways ordinary people aren't. They do what they want, when they want and give you a bloody nose if you try and stop them.

There's a mood, an energy, a style that Cassavettes was able to capture and portray that made this film so far removed from any cliched studio product geared toward teenyboppers. The film feels honest and genuine, and that's the difference.

At a certain point, after all the partying, and boozing and drugging, the film takes a turn for the worse and climaxes into a gut wrenching, horrible tragedy that left me (and the audience) stunned.

Overall it's an extremely well crafted film, definitely worth seeing.

And I almost forgot to mention the biggest surprise of all... Justin Timberlake. Forget what you know, forget N'SYNC, this guy is a real actor. I almost feel strange saying this, but it's true... He was stunning, almost stole the movie; crackled whenever he was on screen. He has all the right ingredients for a stellar acting career; charisma, screen presence, that separates him from the pretty faced phonies clogging the movie screens. Every moment he was on screen he was doing something that worked, and he makes it look easy, the most important trait a great actor has. I'll definitely be watching his acting career very closely from now on.
"A slice of Valley life that went wrong...real wrong..."7/10
ALPHA DOG is a film that will resonate with the younger generation as its theme of drugs, rap music and sex can be translated through out the world where a group of teens are angry, ignored and violent. Whether it is the San Fernando valley or the Silicon valley, young men and women with time and money to spend on drink, drugs and sex will find the film is very familiar to their life styles. Sad, but true.

The first two acts of the film the dialog is really crude and filthy, and really becomes tiresome, but in relation to young druggies, this is their way of communicating. As an adult, I found it difficult to have any empathy for the young "Alpha males" except for the brilliant role of Anton Yelchin as Zack. He is so wonderful in his role and captures the innocence of a 15 year old and his final horrifying scenes are ones to remember. And Ben Foster as Zack's brother is sensational in a role that is both powerful and frightening at the same time.

I wish this film were one you could find some redemption for, but I felt none at the end and Sharon Stone is once again terrific in a small, but powerful role as the mother. The young cast is awesome and true to the angry youth of today.
An excellent movie about misguided youth8/10
When I saw the rating of this movie on IMDb.com, I couldn't believe my eyes. This movie definitely deserves a much better rating (around 7 would be the appropriate rating). This is a story about spoiled, misguided teenagers who do nothing but smoke pot, drink and party. Understandably, all of the teenager characters act in accordance with this care-free life style. So, you should expect this sort of behavior from them (a lot of cursing, violence, sex, drug usage, etc.). I think the director did a terrific job of portraying the setting for this type of life style.

There are two rival parties of youngsters and one guy, Jake Mazursky, owes some money to another guy, Johnny Truelove. Jake is a typical unruly teenager but his younger brother Zack is a nice kid who seems to have a brighter future than his older brother. But when Jake refuses to pay off his debt to Johnny Truelove, they kidnap his younger brother Zack as a hostage. Surprisingly, Zack develops a nice rapport with his kidnappers; being a nice kid, he easily connects even with the unruly kind. He doesn't even seem to be willing to escape from his kidnappers.

This is an excellent film showing the extend of damage that can be caused by the misguided youngsters. They live in a world where even the most stupid acts can be accepted as being "cool" or "desirable". Too much pot smoking and drugs, not enough oxygen in the brain cells. Are these kids really that stupid or are they stupefied by all the drugs they take? I think this is a movie all parents should watch and they should watch it really carefully before things are too late.
Good...disturbing.9/10
That last reviewer is nuts. I wasn't even in the mood to see this kind of a film, but I really got into it and enjoyed myself! Yes, there is a lot of cussing, but the movie is rated R, so it's lot as though it came as a surprise. These characters are freaking drug dealing gang members, for crying out loud--what else would one expect? The acting was excellent, with Justin Timberlake surprising me the most. I didn't think I'd be able to take him seriously, but his performance really was the standout of the film. The characters, for the most part, aren't likable, but very realistic and well-played.

The premise, of course, is based on a true story, but in my opinion was very well put-together so that it wasn't dull in any way, shape, or form. To me, it felt like a better-quality, more entertaining version of films like "Bully" and "Havoc".

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who likes true-crime dramas.