Dogfight

1991, Drama, 1h 35m

18 Reviews 5,000+ Ratings

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Movie Info

A young Marine named Eddie Birdlace (River Phoenix) is set to spend his last night in San Francisco with his military friends before they are deployed to Vietnam in 1963. Eddie and his friends plan to attend a cruel bar event called a "dogfight," which requires Marines to bring unattractive dates who will be judged for their ugliness. Eddie encounters a shy, frumpy girl named Rose (Lili Taylor) whom he brings to the dogfight but finds himself falling for as the night goes on.

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Critic Reviews for Dogfight

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (4)

Audience Reviews for Dogfight

  • Dec 28, 2011
    Dogfight is cruel, poignant, and yet played out. This is one of the more unique period pieces, an independent film made right at the peak of River Phoenix's fame and only several years before his subsequent death. The story is one that makes little sense in the way of meaning. The span of time is the early sixties, right as the folk scene was starting to gain momentum and the Vietnam War was turning from a conflict to a full scale war. Most of the plot relies heavily on the setting to compliment the storyline. Though this is supposed to be about what beauty really means I didn't see much in the way of Birdlace's (Phoenix) change in demeanor or values, only selfish behavior. Though he takes advantage of Rose (Lili Taylor) and you can tell he feels bad about it before going through with the demeaning act itself, he still demonizes himself by taking her in the first place and not standing up for her directly. He even lies to her while trying to apologize for the cruel way he treated her. The character is a severe detraction from what Marines were. It's not that his portrayal was unrealistic of what wartime soldiers were like, but the script undersells their intelligence at every turn and instead tries to sell us on brotherhood, and an entire side storyline about the folk music scene. Rose is a simplistic clod of a girl, who isn't unattractive, and shouldn't fall for his line of bullshit. Though the film is about changing yourself through acceptance and tolerance, Rose shouldn't have let him try to change himself by using her, and he sure shouldn't have started things with her the night before he was being shipped out. I accept many of these faults because the romance was actually quite sweet. It shouldn't have happened in the first place, but the endearing performance from Phoenix pushed me into liking this despite everything. This is a great performance for him, and Taylor who would go on to make the horrid version of The Haunting. Though this film drags (which is odd since it comes in at an hour and a half) it does plant the idea that what you're led to believe isn't always what's right, and any movie that promotes equality and understanding, no matter how clumsy a way they go about it, gets some kudos from me.
    Spencer S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 02, 2011
    A touching little gem of a piece as a new couple enjoy a night on the town before he ships overseas to be an advisor in Vietnam. Phoenix and Taylor are amazing. I'd never heard of it before! Did I give it 3 stars? Shoulda been 4.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 09, 2011
    Set San Francisco, California during the Vietnam War, Dogfight conceives the innocent and inexperienced relationship of an unsophisticated woman and a young United States Marine she met on the eve of his trip to Vietnam. Most hilarious. Most charming. Most romantic. My personal brand of romance. Lovely.
    Jan Marc M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 30, 2011
    One of the most unlikely of on-screen pairings with River Phoenix and Lili Taylor. Phoenix plays a Marine about to ship off to Vietnam with four of his buddies, on their last night before heading out they stage a "Dogfight" which is where everyone puts money into a pot and proceeds to find the ugliest girl they can find and bring her to a party, the one with the ugliest girl, wins. Needless to say things get bad for the Marine and the lonely and shy girl he picked catches wind of the cruel prank. So he spends the rest of the night trying to make it up to the girl and in doing so they both fall for each other, and a love that will stand a war and several years is born out of the most unlikeliest of situations. Lili Taylor has always been one of my favorite actresses and this is probably one of my favorite roles she has ever done. This also can be said about the late River Phoenix who is fantastic. The film itself is quite honestly one of the quirkiest and best Romance movies I have ever seen.
    Jason R Super Reviewer

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