Blow (2001)

The tale of Blow follows a kid named George Jung (Johnny Depp) as he travels to the sunshiny coasts of California. Here he finds everyone with a David Cassidy haircut and an insatiable appetite for pot. He strikes a small scale dealing business with some help from a flamboyant hair dresser (Paul Rubens) and rocket in riches. They eventually discover the powers of cocaine, a.k.a. blow to the uninitiated, and set it loose upon 1970s America. Jung becomes the top trafficker of cocaine and practically single-handily leads to its explosion. And of course, these good times can’t last as Jung’s life falls apart as the 80s go.

Blow is too stylistically similar to earlier 70s epics of violence and music like Boogie Nights and Goodfellas. The same moves and looks are evident, even the same overall tone, but it is missing all of the feel. Blow moves along and feels like something is missing as it continues to ape the flavor of those earlier excellent films. There’s a distinct feeling while viewing that you aren’t viewing something complete. The sense of loss permeates the screen with Blow.

Depp uses a subtle acting approach making Jung one real mellow dude man. One can never feel a connection for any of the characters because the plot is not interested in the characters and only a masochistic orchestra of bad events that happens to Depp. You feel unattached to the characters as a whole, but you do manage to feel a level of sympathy for Jung. His mother is a card to watch, and it seems history repeats itself when it comes to family squabbles.

Penelope Cruz plays one spoiled hell-cat of a drug lord’s girl, who later becomes Depp’s wife. Cruz’s character is possibly the most horrible love interest I have ever seen on film. She shrieks about money and wealth, acts apathetic to their innocent daughter, and single-handily gets Depp busted a few times without guilt. Upon deeper reflection she seems (if she happened not to actually exist, which she does) like a cheap foil to make the audience sympathy sway dramatically to our “tryin’ to do good” flawed hero in Jung. It almost seems insulting.

Ray Liotta (who was IN Goodfellas by the way) gets the pleasure of aging through the years with makeup, which basically consists of slapping gray and more skin to his neck. It’s rather humorous that Liotta is playing Depp’s father in the flick when in reality they are roughly the same age. Though I guess it’s better for Liotta to age after seeing Depp’s character age drastically and gain twenty pounds all in his neck. Older Depp looks like a zombie Ludwig von Beethoven.

Blow is written and directed by Ted Demme and is based on the memoirs of Jung while in prison. It is fairly entertaining in its own right but you can’t help but feel you’ve seen it all before and better. Still, with this lackluster year as it is Blow is a decent pic to sit down and chew through a box of overpriced popcorn. Any movie with Franka Potente (my titular hero in Run Lola Run) and Paul Ruebens is worth the price of admission.

Nate’s Grade: B-

About natezoebl

One man. Many movies. I am a cinephile (which spell-check suggests should really be "epinephine"). I was told that a passion for movies was in his blood since I was conceived at a movie convention. While scientifically questionable, I do remember a childhood where I would wake up Saturday mornings, bounce on my parents' bed, and watch Siskel and Ebert's syndicated TV show. That doesn't seem normal. At age 17, I began writing movie reviews and have been unable to stop ever since. I was the co-founder and chief editor at (2007-2014) and now write freelance. I have over 1400 written film reviews to my name and counting. I am also a proud member of the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA) since 2012. In my (dwindling) free time, I like to write uncontrollably. I wrote a theatrical genre mash-up adaptation titled "Our Town... Attacked by Zombies" that was staged at my alma mater, Capital University in the fall of 2010 with minimal causalities and zero lawsuits. I have also written or co-written sixteen screenplays and pilots, with one of those scripts reviewed on industry blog Script Shadow. Thanks to the positive exposure, I am now also dipping my toes into the very industry I've been obsessed over since I was yea-high to whatever people are yea-high to in comparisons.

Posted on April 18, 2001, in 2001 Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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