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Overall Rating

Awesome: 31.25%
Worth A Look38.75%
Average: 21.25%
Pretty Bad: 7.5%
Total Crap: 1.25%

13 reviews, 82 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Repetitive 'Blow' Succeeds Where It Needs To"
4 stars

It’s not a surprise to see the names of Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson under the list of “special thanks” during the final credits of Blow. In fact, Ted Demme could have thanked every filmmaker who ever made a film about people going from rags to riches and back to rags again while involved with criminal activities. But, like the idea of different actors putting on a production of a classic play, Blow succeeds where it needs to.

It’s based on the true life story of George Jung (Johnny Depp), the son of a working class father (Ray Liotta) and materialistic mother (Rachel Griffiths) in New England. Vowing to never struggle the way his loving father did to keep the family together, George packs up for college with his friend, Tuna (Ethan Suplee), heads off to the coast of California and immediately gets hooked into the marijuana culture of the free spirits.

Here he meets the supportive love of his life, Barbara (Franka Potente, “Run Lola Run”) and one of his future partners in crime, the flamboyant hairdresser Derek Foreal (Paul Reubens). All of them converge to fill the demand of the wacky weed, even going so far to steal planes to fly giant bags into the country. Life is pretty good for the kid from the bankrupt family.

But when tragedy strikes and George is unable to evade authorities, the road to riches is about to become more lucrative and dangerous. His cellmate Diego Delgado (Jordi Molla), impressed by George’s knowledge of the drug trade, introduces him to Pablo Escobar (Cliff Curtis), one of history’s most feared criminals and the king of the Colombian cartels. Because of these people, we are told, the party culture of Hollywood was taken to a whole new level and eventually trickled down throughout the states.

The real meat of the story should be here and how cocaine became the hard drug of choice, but instead it follows the same A-B-C plot structure that we’ve come to expect with films as criminals as the main character. How many times can you hear one of them say “we had it all, but in the end we screwed it all up?” And it always seems to involve a woman in some way.

In an attempt to experience love again, George, with little opposition, steals the fiancée of one of his business associates; Mirtha, played by the cartoon punch-face that is Penelope Cruz. Mirtha isn’t exactly the loving supporter that Barbara was, instead being the kind of trap that George hoped to avoid when he left home. Mirtha becomes more a plot catalyst to provide an ironic parallel late in the film rather than an interesting character. She’s basically just a kinky party girl more interested in the powder and the dough. It also doesn’t help that Cruz is about as engaging as a giant pile of lips with a case of muteness. If someone can please explain her appeal (talent and attractiveness), I’m willing to listen.

With the exception of Cruz, performances are solid right across the board. Johnny Depp continues to prove why he can cure Attention Deficit Syndrome. And Ray Liotta continues to prove that 2001 is his year. The family dynamic that these two create in Blow is the one thing that sets it apart from all the other copycats. Their relationship supplies the heart of the film and underlines the tragic fall that George sets up for his own family. The Goodfellas-like comparative is hard to ignore when Rachel Griffiths even resembles Lorraine Bracco from that masterpiece. It’s like this is what happened if George was the son of Henry and Karen Hill after they were relocated to the suburbs. But its still a testament to the acting of these three to pull it off, especially when Griffiths is actually five years younger than Depp, who in turn is only eight years Liotta’s junior.

Ted Demme has built up such a solid resume in such a short time, that you would think he’s actually directed more films. He was responsible for two of the best, most underrated films of the 90s (Beautiful Girls and The Ref) and the great, short-lived television series, “Action”. This guy clearly has talent and perhaps the odds were stacked against him already when taking on a subject matter that has been done-to-death based on professions from rock stars to stockbrokers to criminals. About all you can really do is change the tunes on the soundtrack, but even then, you’ll recognize a few of them from the Scorsese films. But Demme manages to present the material honorably and more than entertaining enough to peak our interest even as we know where its headed.

With all the hype leading up to this film, I was hoping that it would complete the ultimate trilogy of drug films within a scant six-month period. “Requiem for a Dream” dealt with the effects of drugs on the individual. “Traffic” was the epic examination of what has become of the drug war. And “Blow” would tell us how it all started with the white powder. The opening footage of how cocaine gets made gives us the hope of seeing something that we haven’t seen before. But such is not the case. Blow doesn’t dig as deep as we wish, but even a familiar tale still has to be told with panache and Demme can thank whomever he wants as long as he makes a good film, which he has.

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originally posted: 04/07/01 04:40:29
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell gritty but nothing special 3 stars
9/03/14 Celeste Garcia This movie was beyond the best. 5 stars
7/11/13 Jeff Wilder Derivative sure. But well-directed and fantastic performances from Depp and Liotta. 4 stars
11/11/10 Lundon johnny depp is amazing no matter what movie he does and blow makes you feel like your there 4 stars
4/03/08 Tiffanie I loved this movie! Its prolly one of the best by far 5 stars
1/05/08 Pamela White drug dealing and the paranoic life they lead 3 stars
12/09/07 SamanthaP johnny depp is good in anything! 4 stars
11/13/07 Ashley i love this movie very sad 5 stars
10/08/07 KNurse I have watched this movie several times.....awesome fucking movie 5 stars
1/03/06 Wiseman I loved this movie! i watched it 10 times 5 stars
12/19/05 Bree Outstanding all around. 5 stars
12/01/05 john smith it is ok 3 stars
11/22/05 Emily I can watch this movie over and over 5 stars
11/21/05 ad excellent 5 stars
10/31/05 Stephanie This is my favorite movie! 5 stars
9/15/05 shawn great fucking movie 5 stars
8/04/05 D.K. great cast, good grasp of the facts 5 stars
4/21/05 Evka cool movie 5 stars
8/18/04 Violeta perfect! 5 stars
7/24/04 Sandy Turynowicz too much info. I didn't need 2 stars
7/08/04 Denise Duspiva May the wind always be at your back and the sun upon your face and may the winds of destiny 5 stars
6/23/04 Jack Sommersby Obvious, uninsightful and blandy directed. Depp is wasted; Liotta only bright spot. 1 stars
6/08/04 Darryl Stavena The most romantic way to see the life of a drug-dealer 5 stars
3/10/04 Ash Everything about this movie makes you a die-hard depp fan! 5 stars
2/22/04 8=====D COKE RULES!!!! 5 stars
1/26/04 R.W. Welch Familiar tale of rise/fall of drug lord, professional work tho. 3 stars
1/14/04 josh mentzer great movie 4 stars
1/08/04 Kim it was great and johnny depp was so sexy i loved it! 5 stars
10/25/03 Samuel Great film, based on a true story and that makes it that much better! 5 stars
8/28/03 Mr. Hat One great film. Great acting, great directing, one powerful ending. 5 stars
8/01/03 Samantha Macias I thoght this movie was interesting, and very sad!! 5 stars
5/04/03 sleepy this film made me feel pity for a drug dealer! 5 stars
4/27/03 tyler reiter greatest fucking movie of all time 5 stars
4/17/03 George Jung One of the best biopics of recent memory. 5 stars
2/06/03 123 a shorter, less violent, inferior version of goodfellas 3 stars
1/08/03 val Fucking Awesome 5 stars
12/31/02 Tam Interesting depiction of a life ruined by drugs. 4 stars
12/31/02 Jack Sommersby Blow me! 1 stars
7/27/02 karen goldstein extremely entertaining - johnny depp deserved an oscar for best actor!!!! 5 stars
7/14/02 sdjfsdkjf Depp, great but once Barb died boring. Penelope needs fucking English lessons, "hypocrite"? 3 stars
5/13/02 bubba ray dudley must see 5 stars
4/30/02 Andy (Big A) dis was one of the best movies ever big ups to my boy jung and soon you will be free 2015. 5 stars
4/10/02 Butterbean A wonderful movie! Far superior to that overrated Requiem for a Dream 5 stars
4/07/02 Cardo Elins Outstanding 5 stars
3/30/02 Victor Villalba Good with some assumptions 4 stars
2/21/02 luda hoe it was fun. i want to do coke now, but still, it was fun 4 stars
2/17/02 Clarance Jonny Depp - Great job - Depicted the harsh reality of how fucked up life can be 5 stars
1/30/02 Phil M. Afficianado Erik the Movieman states my views. Depp is terrific and ages realistically in the film. 4 stars
1/01/02 calvin cellars best based on a true story movie ever made 5 stars
12/28/01 Evil Bitchwoman pretty cool movie i guess so u should go see it. Cruz is a mental Slut though 4 stars
9/25/01 Monday Morning Great characters bring this story to life. It's not great but it shore is fun. 4 stars
9/04/01 Alan The Spanish bitch sleeps with everybody and I despise her. 3 stars
8/18/01 Obi Wan Wow! 1 of the best flicks I've seen in this movie tix inflation era! 5 stars
6/03/01 Richard Wright Does nothing to lift it out of a tired genre, overlong and dramatically shallow to boot. 3 stars
5/28/01 Connor Dueck a slightly different look at the drug game 5 stars
5/24/01 Christine It is the best movie ive ever seen!! 5 stars
5/20/01 A Williams I went in there expecting crap, but it was a really excellent movie, i recommend it 4 stars
5/16/01 Misa The movie was actually pretty great, definately not boring like I thought it would be. 4 stars
4/26/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) An aquired taste...and I suggest everyone acquire it... 4 stars
4/26/01 Todd Very cool, but if he hasn't seen his daughter while in prison, why did she act in the movie 4 stars
4/26/01 Brian After Pacino in "Scarface", all these other drug-lord movies pale by comparison 3 stars
4/24/01 Pete Sweet movie. Go see it. Johnny Depp is the best character actor in America right now. 5 stars
4/23/01 Girl 9 The Depp track record for making decent films sucks, but this one is worth seeing. 4 stars
4/19/01 Joe Awesome! Another movie Depp will be overlooked 5 stars
4/16/01 ChiefAlDog I wanted more explanation of how he avoided his parole officer time and again. 4 stars
4/14/01 Bill B Best I've seen in a long time. PeeWee was great. Tear jerker for any man with a daughter. 5 stars
4/14/01 Clarance A Cross between Trainspotting and Traffic...but BETTER! Fantastic and Powerful!! 5 stars
4/11/01 gabi Says it all--the good and bad of life; Depp incredible; very awsome film 5 stars
4/11/01 Nick A little on the depressing side, but a good film with an interesting comment on life. 4 stars
4/11/01 alanis I think you are very unfair with johnny, he makes an excellent performance, as usual 4 stars
4/11/01 scott awesome 5 stars
4/09/01 The Bomb 69 some cliches but overall an interesting look at a flawed and tragic character 4 stars
4/09/01 poetchuck Engaging story 4 stars
4/08/01 grunter If "Scarface" were a T.V. movie, it'd still have more substance and grit than "Blow" 2 stars
4/08/01 malcolm realest, most sympathetic drug dealer character in a while, maybe ever 5 stars
4/08/01 frankko nothing we haven't seen before. (and not enough paul reubens.) 2 stars
4/08/01 rue the whirl fairly dull and tiresome 3 stars
4/07/01 fishfry Last hour excruciatingly boring. Major disappointment 2 stars
4/07/01 brent young not given away in the previews, this movie was very good. worth a definate look. 5 stars
4/06/01 Megan Uninspired direction, a badly written script, and a horrible performance by Penelope Cruz 2 stars
4/03/01 Marcy Skenderian Per the WGA, it should read "Written by David McKenna and Nick Cassavetes" 5 stars
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  06-Apr-2001 (R)


  23-Aug-2001 (M)

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