"A Missed Opportunity"
What You Need To Know:
ALPHA DOG is a harrowing look at the pagan, hedonistic lifestyle of too many American teenagers. Regrettably, it sometimes seems to glamorize the foul-mouthed, party hardy lifestyle of its youths. By mostly taking a non-judgmental attitude, and letting the viewers decide what to think, the movie misses an opportunity to arouse public outrage. The good news is that all the bad guys, except for Zach's irresponsible, out-of-control brother, get their just desserts.
(B, PaPaPa, LLL, VV, SS, NN, AAA, DDD, MMM) Light but undeveloped moral worldview undercut by a presentation of a very hedonistic, pagan lifestyle among a group of teenagers in Southern California that sometimes seems to glamorize their immoral, party lifestyle of drugs, booze, sex, guns, and girls; at least 360 mostly strong obscenities, 15 strong profanities, four light profanities, older teenager poops on another older teenager's carpet, and some obscene gestures; strong violence includes characters fight, older teenager uses kung fu on a group of partying teenagers to get their attention (knocking several out) with some blood shown, two teenagers fight and crash through glass doors and a picture window, character hits another character with a shovel, and teenager machine-gunned to death in a night scene in washed-out colors with some dark blood shown; depicted fornication or sodomy, implied fornication, and 15-year-old boy goes skinny dipping with two nude older teenage girls and they begin kissing before camera fades out (that's the implied fornication), implied oral sex, and crude talk about sex; shots of upper female nudity in two or three scenes, shot of rear female nudity, rear male nudity, and upper male nudity; lots of alcohol use among underage older teenagers, drunkenness, and one father drinks with his son's friends in restaurant, some of whom may be over 21 (the older youths don't act like they are 21, so it's hard to tell in the movie); very strong drug content includes smoking cigarettes, smoking marijuana, talk about a young group leader selling marijuana all the time (which he apparently uses to rent his own nice house with nice furniture and a big TV), youth bribes younger teenager with marijuana, a father mentions he was using marijuana, parents find a marijuana bong in teenager's room, and boy's father grows marijuana in his backyard garden and two youths harvest it; and, stealing, vandalism, violent threats, father helps his murderous drug-dealing son escape the law for a time, kidnapping, extortion, teenager runs away from home, and lying.
Inspired by true events in Southern California, ALPHA DOG tells about a personal feud between two young marijuana dealers that goes terribly wrong.
The movie follows three fateful days in the lives of a group of older teenagers in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. The teenagers spend their nights partying and doing imitations of the black “gangsta” rappers who shoot videos full of girls, guns and drug references. Sonny Truelove, one of the teenagers played by Emile Hirsch, is the main local pot dealer. He commands allegiance from all his party friends, including his lapdog Elvis (played by Shawn Hatosy) and his clueless friend, Frankie (played by Justin Timberlake, the famous singer).
Another drug dealer, Jake Mazursky (played by Ben Foster) owes Sonny $1,200. When Sonny demands payment, Jake, who’s addicted to crystal meth, goes berserk, causing lots of trouble.
Sonny, Frankie and Elvis accidentally run across Jake’s 15-year-old brother, Zach. Sonny decides on the spur of the moment to kidnap Zach. He tries to get back his money from Jake, but Jake becomes even angrier because of what Sonny has done.
While Sonny figures out what to do, he places Zach under easy-going Frankie’s control for a couple days. Zach, who’s been chafing under his mother, Olivia’s, strict control, starts to enjoy hanging out with Frankie and Frankie’s pot-smoking friends, especially the older teenage girls. Sonny is beginning to think, however, that the best solution to his problem may be to murder Zach.
In the story, only one teenager, a girl named Susan, tries to convince Frankie and his other friends to let Zach go. She tells them that what Sonny and Frankie are doing is morally wrong. The other teenagers think, however, that what Sonny has done is “cool.” They call Zach “the stolen boy.” The problem is, Zach is having such a fun time hanging around and smoking pot with the girls that he doesn’t want to go, even when Frankie gives him a chance to leave. Zach also doesn’t want to get his brother, Jake, in more trouble with Sonny by leaving Frankie’s care. In the end, Sonny and Elvis paint Frankie into a corner, where he must decide whether to obey Sonny or do the right thing and let Zach go.
ALPHA DOG is a harrowing look at the pagan, hedonistic, immoral lifestyle of too many American teenagers these days. Regrettably, it sometimes seems to glamorize the foul-mouthed, party lifestyle of its teen characters. In fact, the behavior of the characters is so outrageous at times that it is funny. By mostly taking a non-judgmental attitude, and letting the viewers decide what to think, the movie misses an opportunity to arouse public outrage at the arrogant, selfish rap music lifestyle and the parental failures that seem to be a big part of this social problem among our youths. The good news is that all the bad guys, except for Zach’s irresponsible, out-of-control brother, get their just desserts.