Monday, November 12, 2007

Alpha Dog

Last night Mr. H. and I watched Alpha Dog. It's one of those movies that is based on real events. Which just makes the whole thing sad. These thug kids who have grown up in the lap of luxury steal a kid because his brother owes them money. Over the course of the weekend, several people see and party with this stolen kid (even referring to him as the stolen kid) and don't do anything. To them it's a game. It's a game even to the stolen kid who thinks it's cool to hang out and drink and get high with these wannabe gangsters all the while believing his brother will pay the debt and save him. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a happy ending.

I remember when this movie came out and all I thought of it was that it was a vehicle for Justin Timberlake. He has a central part, but he's not the main bad guy, and he does a decent job. The main baddie's played by Emile Hirsch (who also plays Christophe McCandless in the recently released Into the Wild). He's a drug dealer who's got his friends out selling his drugs while he takes the profits. The brother with the debt is played by Ben Foster (who also played the crazy guy in 3:10 to Yuma). Once again he turns in a great performance. Unfortunately, his story line is never followed through on and we're left wondering what happened to him.

I didn't realize until the end of this movie that it's telling the true story of Nick Markowitz (the stolen boy) and Jesse James Hollywood (the drug dealer and yes, that's his real name). I know bad things happen, and people do bad things for no good reason. But it's interesting to me to think about these kids who seemingly had everything and choose a life of drug dealing and end up killing someone. Hollywood had apparently made enough money by the age of 20 that he paid cash for a $200,000 house. Where were their parents? Hell, where was the IRS?

As with all movies based on actual events, there are fudges and time lines that are changed. But the essence of this movie relates what really happened: these kids live in a very real, very dangerous world of drugs, but to them it's just a game. And everyone around them basically treated them like they were just kids having a good time. Someday they'd grow up. Unfortunately, one of them didn't get to and other's are growing up in jail.

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