JT sizzles, but Alpha Dog remains lukewarm

Also known as “That JT movie,” Alpha Dog will probably be forgotten in a month or two. One may look upon it and say, “Justin Timberlake expresses himself better vocally, but still manages to bring sexy back and front.” However, if only given the chance to be revised and improved, this screenplay may have had some significance in the mainstream of cinema. Based on a true story, this tale surrounds the party life and bad decisions of Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch), a young drug dealer in California, and his posse. When a psychotic friend owes Truelove money, he kidnaps his little brother Zack (Anton Yelchin) in hopes of compensation. Meanwhile, Zack enjoys his time away from a controlling mother with Frankie (JT), a good friend of Truelove. At first, his little vacation is a riot of parties full of alcohol and babes, but when the kidnapping reaches a dead end, Truelove and Frankie become afraid of what awaits them. As the film unwinds, the plot becomes more serious and emotional. Though in the beginning JT’s acting is bad enough to make anyone cry him a river of pity, it’s as if he learns from his mistakes as time progresses. For a while, his marijuana growing, sleazy pervert persona is unconvincing. However, as Frankie’s friendship with Zack grows, his affectionate side is unveiled. And isn’t that the JT we know and love? When Truelove sees that the kidnapping is accomplishing nothing, Frankie steps up and confronts him about his intentions to get rid of the boy. As the movie builds up to its climax, characters surrounding Zack become attached to him: he’s a caring, gentle, 15-year-old kid who is nothing but innocent. All the señoritas love that he’s young and stolen. These loyal friends then speak out with animosity against the crime and blame Frankie, who disagrees but knows he should go along with Truelove’s plan and say bye bye bye to Zack… One thing that puzzled me about Alpha Dog was the intended audience. Taking on after real events with minor changes, several characters such as Truelove’s father (Bruce Willis) are interviewed as if in a documentary, telling about the trial, drug dealing, etc. Playing off a smooth performance, he delivers a few casual but funny jokes that add a tint of color to a few other gray actors. Also, from the moment Zack is kidnapped, every witness encountered is labeled with a name and location, summing up to a total of 38. At the same time, cutting into this dramatic scenery is an examination of the self-destructive lifestyles of young adults. So is the film meant to have a tragic theme, or is it simply about a party life gone bad? Loved by some and hated by others, Alpha Dog had its ups and downs. Bruce Willis was a delightful addition to a cast of some unskilled, (ahem, JT), and incompetent actors. As the plot unfolded, however, inside was a true sad story. Much of the violence and crude humor often masked this heartbreaking story, which was—in it’s own way—heartbreaking.