Blow (2001)
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Review Date: April 01, 2001
Director: Ted Demme
Writer: David McKenna, Nick Cassavetes
Producers: Ted Demme, Joel Stillerman, Denis Leary
Johnny Depp
Ray Liotta
Jordi Molla
George Jung is your typical middle-class kid from Massachusetts. Unfortunately, he's got a bitchy mom but a nice dad. As a child, he witnesses his father's struggles to make ends meet and grows up wanting more out of his own life. As an adult, George generates so much cash at some point, that his biggest problem becomes finding a place to store it all. How does George go from being a lil' tike with a cool dad to one of the biggest drug-runners in the United States during the late 70s, early 80s? True story. Find out by watching the movie.
Is this movie original? No, not really. Does this movie still give us a great story, an intriguing lead character, an amazing soundtrack, plenty of style, many a touching moment and an altogether fascinating cinematic journey? Oh, definitely! "Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster!" is the quote that starts off one of my favorite movies of all-time: GOODFELLAS. Now it goes without saying that this film will unavoidably be compared to that film, SCARFACE, BOOGIE NIGHTS and many other epic life-stories of little so-and-so's making it to the "big time". But unlike most of those wise guys, here's a film in which the lead character doesn't really want to be a gangster, but one circumstance leads to another circumstance and the next thing you know, he's meeting with Pablo Escobar, the biggest drug lord in the world. A very interesting journey, to say the least. Here's a movie that gives you another intriguing story of a "regular guy" who ends up in extra-ordinary circumstances, and with a little bit of street-smarts, a little bit of charm and a lotta balls, makes something out of himself. Mind you, I personally have always been fascinated with the biographies of famous people, so maybe this story won't grab you as much as it did me. But the actors are also all very good in this film, the high style in perfect alignment with the previously mentioned flicks and plenty of drama, bits of humor, betrayals and double-crossings (natch!).

Another thing that sets this flick apart from the previously mentioned movies is its personal connections which are highlighted to us through its lead character. A very deep father/son relationship is explored here and so is the lead's love for his daughter, which keeps him going through some of the tougher times (having recently had a baby girl himself, I could see how Depp could relate more to this character). Ultimately, you will either be interested in this man's story or not, and I for one, was quite absorbed and entertained. The detailed progression of his beginnings, his rise and his eventual downfall (I don't think I'm giving anything away here) are well paced and convincingly strung together, with lotsa flair via the director's eye, a groovy soundtrack, some entertaining side characters and a very poignant ending. I don't think you should go into this movie expecting to see something entirely different from the films mentioned above, because they do ultimately resemble each other quite a bit in style, pace and general undertone. But the personalities, the struggles and the personal story behind this one is on a fresher tip, and it certainly grabbed me and took me along for quite the ride. The word "epic" was made for this movie. Kudos to Ted Demme for taking the material and turning into an entertaining and touching vehicle, and to Johnny Depp for keeping me glued to the screen with yet another solid performance. Although I do wish he hadn't worn his sunglasses so much, since it didn't allow for the viewer to get into his character's eyes. But alas...

PS: You also shouldn't expect to see much of Cruz or Reubens, who appear to be billed much greater than their characters' respective appearances in the film.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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