Wiggers gone wild.
Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) controls the drugs on the well-manicured streets of his neighborhood. Where Johnny goes, the party, the girls and his loyal gang follow. When he’s double-crossed over missing deal money by raging hothead Jake (Ben Foster), Johnny and his gang impulsively kidnap Jake’s little brother, Zack (Anton Yelchin), holding him as a marker and heading to Palm Springs. With no parents in sight, they grow used to having the kid around, and Zack enjoys an illicit summer fantasy of drinking, girls and new experiences.
Writer/director Nick Cassavetes seems like he’s always trying to not be known as “the legendary directors son”, but it’s almost too hard to get by that. But with films like this, I have a feeling he can do it right.
The first hour of this film doesn’t really have anything going on other than show all of these asshole teenage kids, doing stupid and annoying teenage kid stuff. It was kind of annoying since we have all seen this done time and time before with no real originality here other than some kids drinking, smoking weed, and cursing up a storm like nobody’s business.
However, after the first hour the film starts to pick up and I think this is where Cassavetes really starts to show signs of a great director as well. Since this was based on a true story, the film is told as if it were a police investigation, watching this whole film as if it were looking for details, witnesses, and just the truth on what actually happened.
The script itself is kind of uneven but overall I found myself chilled with not knowing just what was going to happen next, and just how damn evil and dumb certain people can be. The whole time this film never loses sight of the people who it’s trying to portray. You get a real sense that these dumb-asses were so shallow in their mind-set that they could have easily just let him go back to his mommy and daddy, to then tell them he went off with a girl and got some pootang in the meantime. That plan would have worked but these asses instead let him hang around, get drunk, get high, get some ladies, and overall, just feel free to finally be away from that home of his. I was angry with these people and personally when a film can do that to me, it’s pretty good.
The only problem with this script is that for every chilling and good moment of emotion, there’s an almost unintentional funny moment that this film always seems to find. One of the highlights of this film and probably the best example of unintentional hilarity at it’s finest, is when Foster’s character goes into a party and absolutely beats the shit out of everyone around him, making him almost look like a ninja. The guy does a round-house kick to someones face, gets hit with a bottle then keeps going, and even knocks out a girl there or two. I mean this scene was awesome by how insane it was but it felt out-of-place for this film and was one of the various moments of unintentionally funny moments this film had.
This ensemble cast though, I must say does a pretty good job as well. Ben Foster is insane and crazy as Jake Mazursky, and owns just about every scene he has on screen, but it’s a shame that he has only about 4 or 5 scenes throughout this whole 2 hour film; Emile Hirsch is pretty good as our baby-faced villain, Johnny Truelove, who I actually truly hated; Shawn Hatosy is convincing as Truelove’s little sheep-dog, Elvis; Justin Timberlake gives a surprisingly good performance as Frankie; and Sharon Stone and Bruce Willis just basically are here to chew up scenery as they do so well.
Anton Yelchin is actually amazing in this role as Zack, who has this sort of too sweet voice that makes him seem a little fruity and geeky at first, but instead has you totally feeling so many emotions for him even by the end. Yelchin’s great in this role because honestly shows what a tied-up kid would do if he was able to live a little and just party all the time, without having to worry about parents, responsibility, or grades for that matter. I felt like I was watching an actual kid on-screen the whole time and as it goes on the film gets more and more disturbing.
Let, me also not forget that Olivia Wilde is in this too, showing off some pretty nice boooooobiesss too. And that’s always a watch in my book.
Consensus: Alpha Dog has some genuinely chilling and disturbing moments that are heightened by the whole ensemble cast that’s in this film, but too many times does this film get a little too laughable to take seriously and the characters just weren’t as likable except for two or three maybe.