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Overall Rating
3.91

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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Blow
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by MP Bartley

"Remember kids: drug dealing is B.A.D."
2 stars

I don't mind predictability sometimes. When I put my money down for a mindless summer flick I don't expect anything particularly surprising or challenging. And as long as it's done with style, interest and respect for the audience I can kinda dig that. But when a film comes along that is obviously ABOUT SOMETHING and has a MESSAGE to impart, well that's when I want to be surprised by the journey taken. The journey 'Blow' takes however, is one you could have written down yourself on the bottom of your popcorn tub. And it has about as much weight and interest as a popcorn tub too.

In the 60's George Jung (Johnny Depp) and his best friend Tuna (Ethan Suplee) hit the California beaches to meet girls, get drunk and get stoned. They didn't realise that getting stoned would also start George on the path to becoming one of the biggest drug smugglers America has ever known, even leading to establishing a relationship with Pablo Escobar (Cliff Curtis).

So it's 'Goodfellas' meets 'Boogie Nights' meets 'Trainspotting' with a hip 60's and 70's vibe. Or at least it should be. You can see the attraction that Ted Demme had towards the script, it has the possibility of being a dazzling exercise in style undercut with a serious social message. Unfortunately Ted Demme just turns it into a movie of the week for the big screen. Everything happens just the way you would expect it to, with no surprises and little tension to George's exploits. Predictably the first half of the film is on a high, much like George himself as he enjoys the benefits that only mass drug dealing can bring. And equally predictably the second half of the film is on a downer much like George himself as he realises the losses that only mass drug dealing can inflict. Get the picture here?

Demme doesn't have the ideas or the energy needed to bring this story to life. Everything about it feels flat and devoid of interest, as if he thought the story itself would carry the interest. It's certainly an interesting story but it needs more than uninspired direction to bring that interest to a big screen. Scenes of violence are never shocking and just feel forced in to try and create some spark of interest.
Compare the scene where George, carrying cocaine, has his bag searched to a similiar scene in 'Donnie Brasco' where Depp has to remove his shoes in a Japanese restaurant which would reveal the tape recorder strapped to his leg. Whilst the scene in 'Donnie Brasco' bristles with tension and unreleased violence, the scene in 'Blow' barely raises a pulse. We never feel that George is on the edge of being caught or found out, so when he inevitably does it's with a yawn and a sense of "about time we got to this bit. Is this the bit where he'll inevitably lose contact with his children?".

Demmes flat direction has one interesting characteristic however: he's managed to make Johnny Depp look bland. And this is Johnny Depp, possibly the finest character actor working today who made a drunken pirate in a Disney film an Oscar nominated performance. And Demme renders him virtually anonymous.
Possibly because of the fact he has to work with a series of really bad wigs and false beer-guts throughout the film, but Depp never looks or feels comfortable in the role, and it's probably the least inspired he's ever been.

At least he's not awful however. No, that accolade falls to Penelope Cruz as his wife. False right from the start, she just puts forward more evidence that she's the worst actress working today. Cruz always gives the smug impression that we should be bowled over by the work that she's doing, that she's a truly gifted performer who deigns to lower herself by portraying these people far below her privileged self. Unfortunately we just realise that the only reason we even know who she is is that she pretended to be Tom Cruise's girlfriend for a while. By the time the film reaches the 1980's and her fox-like features (that's fox-like, not foxy) are practically obscured by a truly horrendous wig and track suit, we're fondly reminded of 'Dallas'. The 80's was a time of tacky excess, but instead of satirising it or revelling in it, Demme solemnly adopts it, thus making 'Blow' laughable when it should be at its most tragic.

The only person to come out with any real credit is Ray Liotta as George's father. Despite being only about ten years older than Depp, Liotta is convincing as the stricken father torn apart by his sons wayward path. It's no surprise that 'Blow' is at its best whenever Liotta is on screen, as he gives the film the only emotion that it has. Who'd have thought that being a drug runner was just so boring? Because that's how Demme renders it.

With a story like 'Blow' you'd be foolish to not imagine it like a great tragedy. A young, foolish man enjoying the vicarious pleasures that life has to offer before getting too big for his boots and eventually falling back to earth with a big bang. 'Blow' would like to think it's reached those almost Shakespearean heights, but never does, and rarely achieves anything more than a brief flicker of interest. It's never fun enough, it's never exciting enough and it's never tragic enough. When all the deals have been done and you look at it in the cold light of day, 'Blow' is just lightweight.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4720&reviewer=293
originally posted: 06/23/04 01:52:10
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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
4/06/14 PAUL SHORTT UNINVOLVING BIOPIC DESPITE A GREAT STAR PERFORMANCE 2 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-Apr-2001 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  23-Aug-2001 (M)




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