Alpha Dog (2007)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: A glossy yet unflinching portrait of violent, hedonistic teenagers. Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone chew the scenery, while Justin Timberlake gives a noteworthy performance.


Movie Info

Frankie is a Los Angeles drug dealer. He comes from a good family, owns his home, several cars and enjoys partying with his friends. Frankie is 19. When his friend Jake welches on a debt, Frankie and his boys kidnap Jake's 15-year-old brother Butch and hold him as a marker. Even though Butch has numerous chances to escape, he doesn't. He's enjoying partying with them, losing his virginity and having a good time -- until something goes horribly wrong.

Rating: R (for pervasive drug use and language, strong violence, sexuality and nudity)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Nick Cassavetes
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 1, 2007
Box Office: $15.1M
Runtime:
Universal Studios - Official Site

Cast


as Johnny Truelove

as Frankie Ballenbacher

as Zack Mazursky

as Jake Mazursky

as Elvis Schmidt

as Sonny Truelove

as Olivia Mazursky

as Buzz Fecske

as Tiffy Hartunian

as Cosmo Gadabeeti

as Susan Hartunian

as Butch Mazursky

as Wanda Haynes

as Pick Giaimo

as Bobby 911

as Tiko `TKO' Martinez

as Angela Holden

as Det. Tom Finnegan

as Interviewer

as Adrian Jones

as Peter Johansson

as Dale Dierker

as Jonna Kirshner

as Chucky Mota

as Juergen Ballenbacher

as Julie Beckley

as Sabrina Pope

as Delores Stratten

as Elaine Holden

as Douglas Holden

as P.J. Truelove

as Neighborhood Girl on...

as Dance Bitch Girl

as Party Girl

as Employee

as Gay `Lumpy' Yeager

as Klemash

as Bob Nolder

as Bathroom Party Girl

as Leigh Fecske

as Keith Stratten
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Alpha Dog

All Critics (145) | Top Critics (43)

A movie which has been put together with occasional skill but lacks a compelling reason to exist.

Full Review… | April 19, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

Justin Timberlake has what it takes to be a genuine movie star.

February 5, 2007
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

The worst movie of the year.

Full Review… | February 3, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

This inspired-by-reality tale is essentially an emotional snuff film. It's the kind of misguided effort a middle-aged director indulges in when he wants to reinvent himself as edgy.

Full Review… | November 6, 2010
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Cassavetes' film is pure Hollywood fiction and sensationalism mixed with some sense of reality, but hell I enjoyed it a great deal...

Full Review… | August 10, 2007
Cinema Crazed

A lackluster teenage true-crime tale.

Full Review… | June 25, 2007
IGN Movies

Audience Reviews for Alpha Dog

[img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img]

Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Based on a true story, this is a movie about a feud between a couple of thuggish young punk dopers that escalates into dangerous territory with tragic results when kidnapping and violence enter the picture.

Johnny Truelove is a flashy pot dealer who hates when people owe him money. When the volatile Jake Mazursky owes him such a debt, but double crosses him, Johnny and his cohorts resort to kidnapping Jake's little brother as collateral.

Things get interesting when the kid, Zack, who has many chances to escape, decides that he's okay with the situation, and wants to stay. He actually starts to get friendly with Johnny's right hand man Frankie who acts as the kid's handler. But unfortunately, things don't end up so wonderful when the situation becomes hard to contain, and Johnny doesn't know how to deal with it all.

The film courted controversy since it was based on an actual story, and that case was still sorta going on when the film was being made. And apparently writer/director Nick Cassavetes also had insider access to a lot of information to use in his fictionalization of things.

At first, I wasn't sure if I was gonna like this movie. Hardly any of the characters are likable, and most are absolutely awful people with few, if any redeeming qualities. I stuck with it though, since sometimes, situations that go from bad to worse are actually more interesting when you don't feel bad for anybody, and you get to see them get what they deserve. Granted, that also makes for a tough viewing experience, but thankfully, some of them do come around and I started to connect with them a little bit.

The story mostly plays out as a typical film, but is peppered with documentary style interview bits, kind of like an investigative journalism piece. I'm not against this type of storytelling, but maybe it would have been better had they just kept it like a regular movie. Or just went totally all out, and present the non-interview parts as like flashbacks or something.

Even though this is a rough movie about despicable people, I still kinda liked it. It does kinda drag on a bit at the end, but until then is pretty well paced. I think that having the characters be stupid, ineffectual, and panicky adds a nice spin to a familiar type of story, but it also makes things more wrenching since it's based on actual events. I think if I had a personal connection to this story I may not be able to enjoy, or even endure such a thing.

Even though the characters are vile, that's just the way they're supposed to be. The star studded cast do a pretty terrific job here. In smaller supporting roles we get veterans like Harry Dean Stanton, Bruce Willis, and Sharon Stone, and they do okay, but the film is practically carried by the youngsters. Emile Hirsch is fine as Johhny, Ben Foster is positively unhinged as Jake, and Anton Yelchin is pretty solid as Zack. As Frankie, Justin Timberlake is surprisingly strong. He (and some of the others) come off as trying to act black a bit too much, and it's a tad annoying, but other than that, he proves he's got chops, and I can see why he went on to make some more movies after this. We also get a host of lovely ladies including Olivia Wilde, Amanda Seyfried, Amber Heard, and Dominique Swain among others.

All in all, this film is okay. It's a bit of a mess at times, but it's still rather compelling and engaging, despite the messed up scenario and wretched characters. I'm torn on the specific rating, so let's split it between 3 and 3.5. Though I'm giving it a milder recommendation, I think you should still give it a look.

cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

½

Disturbing and powerful film. Surprisingly strong performance by Justin Timberlake and Yalchin.

cchclaw
Christian C

Super Reviewer

Alpha Dog Quotes

– Submitted by John D (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

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