Dogfight - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Dogfight Reviews

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July 11, 2011
Loved this movie. Great story and great acting. Makes you wonder what River Pheonix would have matured into.
May 10, 2011
This is such a good movie. It's one of those romantic dramas that shouldn't be missed! It has River Phoenix in a great role. Lili Taylor is also great!
May 5, 2011
In the Last Days of Innocence

This I will say. Lili Taylor is not the most attractive woman in the world, but she's an actress who has done well for herself despite being, at best, quirky-looking. I really think she's plain, which is different from ugly. However, she appears in roles where she's supposed to be human-looking. In most movies and TV shows, the plain person only has to do something with her hair and probably take off her glasses in order to be beautiful, and she only needs the right clothes to show off the beautiful body she certainly has. And while I don't think Lili Taylor becomes beautiful over the course of the movie, it becomes apparent that she isn't ugly, either. She becomes more comfortable with herself, and that makes her look better. She relaxes, and she is no longer concerned with how she'll appear to other people. This may in part be because she's already been hurt as much that night as she can be, so it's all uphill from there.

She plays Rose. River Phoenix plays Eddie Birdlace, a young Marine on his way to Okinawa. During a stop in San Francisco, he and various of his Marine buddies have what they call a "dogfight." Each man pays an entry fee, with which they rent a bar and buy plenty of food and drink. The remainder of the money goes as prizes. For the man who brings the ugliest girl. Eddie picks up Rose in her mother's diner and takes her, but when she gets off work, he realizes that she's not actually ugly and certainly not ugly enough to win. Not only that, but as they talk, he gets to actually like her. He tries to keep her from going, but any real admission would be to tell her what's going on. Only while she's there, she learns the truth from Marcie (Elizabeth Daily), a prostitute one of the men has hired to win the game against the rules. Rose reacts about the way you'd expect, which actually makes Eddie feel guilty. He ends up taking her on a real date, seeing all that can be seen in San Francisco in the middle of the night.

I do find it interesting that Eddie's personality is based in part on who he's with. As he spends more and more time with Rose, he softens. He stops being such a Guy. Phoenix was twenty-one at the time, and I think Eddie was even younger. He got his father to sign the paperwork so that he could join the Marines at sixteen. Though if, as he says, Eleanor Roosevelt was actually dead when he enlisted, he can be no older than a few days short of eighteen. Lili Taylor was a few years older than River Phoenix, and I think Rose probably was, too. She is practical, in no small part because she's never been able to be anything else. She's a bit wistful, too, because she wished she could have been. And when she spends time with Eddie, he starts to become a better person. But when he gets back with his Marine buddies, he goes back to having to impress them. He's young enough so that he almost certainly doesn't know who he is yet, and that may be why he agreed to be a part of such a cruel game in the first place.

The funny thing is that one of the guys gives up a chance to spend time with an attractive woman who seems genuinely interested in him so that he can pick up an ugly girl to mistreat. He has to show up the guys. I mean, he probably also wants to win the money, but the winnings aren't a heck of a lot over what he had to put in the pot to begin with. I'm certain he didn't think of it as being cruel. This is in part because I'm certain that he didn't think of the girl's feelings at all. This is not to say that I think he's a sociopath. I doubt most of the men involved in the "game" are. On the other hand, I didn't find it the slightest bit difficult to believe that guys would do this. I mean, for one thing, military training isn't exactly designed to heighten empathy. And, let's face it, young people aren't exactly the most in tune to people's feelings going in. The guys were just being young, selfish guys. Or, you know, young guys.

The challenge, then, was making River Phoenix both believable in his treatment of her and believable when he comes to regret it. This means it's another one of those roles almost custom-designed to make you regret someone's death. A little over two years after the movie's (extremely limited) release, River Phoenix died on a sidewalk in Los Angeles. Playing Rose basically took being plain and kind, which is not challenging. Though most actresses would have trouble truly managing the "plain" part. But with Eddie, he had to start young and dumb--young and [i]cruel[/i]--and from then go on to earn Rose's trust. And ours. We must believe that he now realizes he hurt her and doesn't mean to do it again. We must also, of course, know that there is still the risk of it. After all, at the end of the night, Eddie goes back to his friends, none of whom show the slightest remorse at their activities. His now being a good person who would shun his best friends wouldn't ring true, and even River Phoenix's talents couldn't overcome that.
Super Reviewer
April 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.
½ April 23, 2011
Heart warming romance though I think the ending could be better somehow
April 23, 2011
Not much to say but a very good movie about how real love can sneak up on you and how appearances aren't always accurate.
March 29, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(1991) Dogfight

More of a drama film than a war film, which takes place starting during the 60's Vietnam and the movie centers on an old ritual called 'dogfight' involving the Marines practiced before going off to war! During this, actor River Phoenix as Eddie Birlace builds a rapport with one of it's contestants, actress Lili Taylor as Rose and the movie dwells on this relationship!

What can I say but interesting information about what Marines or soldiers used to do before being sent off to war! A story using fictionize characters as well as storyline based on actual fact!

2.5 out of 4
½ March 27, 2011
Oh dear, sweet hurts my heart to watch him in movies. This sweet movie is one I loved as a teen. Lily Taylor, as always, is flawless and River is perfection. So, so sad.
February 25, 2011
Na véspera do embarque para o Vietnã, em 1963, quatro fuzileiros navais fazem uma aposta: aquele que levar a garota mais feia a uma festa ganha 50 dólares. Eddie 'Birdlace' seduz uma tímida garçonete e já se considera o vencedor. Porém, antes de chegar ao encontro dos outros, ele se apaixona por ela.
December 29, 2010
Little River Phoenix, sounds dark and interesting! Wanna see...
December 17, 2010
Easy Going teen romance with a shorter Haired River Pheonix giving a great performance as a marine in town for just one night were he meets a young girl. As obvious and run of the mill this all sounds, its suprisingly entertaining mainly due to the chemistry and casting, shame more people havent seen it.
November 13, 2010
I wish this were longer. If it were a book I'd read it. I love River Phoenix and I just learned he died in 1993! :(
½ November 3, 2010
In Dogfight, River Phoenix gives one of best performances of his sadly short career, he plays Eddie Birdlace, a US marine leaving for Vietnam in the morning. Him and his gang have a thing called a Dogfight, in which they all see who can get the ugliest date, they hire out a venue and whoever wins wins the pot of money. Birdlaces date (Lil Taylor) is surprisingly not that ugly, and then finds out. Birdlace then apologises and they go out on a second date.

The film is a relitively unknown gem of a romance film, Phoenix plays a chain smoking sweaaring 19 year old marine and Lil Taylor is also very good.
This is one of my favourite films and im very glad I watched it.
½ October 25, 2010
Last night I saw a movie that riveted my attention, and has been in my thoughts today. It is from 1991, and is called Dogfight. The male star was River Phoenix, who was so beautiful and talented. I am sad that he died in 1993 at the age of 23, so tragic.

Lily Taylor was wonderful as usual. You might remember her from Mystic Pizza with Julia Roberts in 1988 or Say Anything with John Cusack in 1989. She has been in lots and lots of other movies and tv shows as well.

A supporting role was played by Anthony Clark from Yes, Dear tv show.

A small part of a sailor in a fight was played by a young and hunky Brendan Fraser. So cute.

The story starts when President Kennedy was just starting to send military advisers to Vietnam. River Phoenix's character is a Marine who is being sent overseas the next day. A bunch of the guys are having a "dogfight", it is a contest during a party where the guy that brings the ugliest girl wins a prize. It is mean, and hurtful when Lily Taylor's character learns the true nature of the party.

I don't want to tell you anymore, because I hope that you will see the movie if you have not already. It is a sweet and tangy love story, and an enlightening experience about how different relationships are guy to guy, and guy to girl.

Highly recommended - and it was a surprise to me!
August 25, 2010
Likeable enough. The shift that River Phoenix's character makes from asshole to genuine was a little abrupt and without an apparent motivation. Lili Taylor is very good as the frumpy Rose but overall the film was missing something... can't quite put my finger on it.
August 21, 2010
Beautiful and touching film that, unlike many other films set in this period, doesn't overly romanticise its 1960s San Franciscan setting.
July 13, 2010
While this was not his last film it was a goodie. My own mild research, I find this is the Phoenix acting family: River, Rain, Liberty, Summer, and yes Joaquin. I wonder if Joaquin took the role of Johhny Cash as it relates to personal life?
June 15, 2010
Touching and well acted. Love it! Used to see River at a little club all the time back in the day and always wanted to tell him how rad I thought this movie was didn't want to bug him. I wish I had.
½ May 24, 2010
I loved this movie xxxxxxxxx
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