A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 590 – Go

Go – October 11th, 2011

When I was in college I rented this movie from work and brought it home to watch while Andy was out. He never watched it with me and I don’t think I’d have rented it for us to watch together. It was very much a late ’90s movie, which is very much the generation I’m supposed to be a part of. To be honest, none of the experiences in this movie are mine or even close to mine. The closest this movie gets to me is that I worked retail and so do some of the main characters, though not the same sort of retail. That’s what I mean. It’s not my experience. Still, I rented it and I watched it and I really liked the conceit of it and the end of it and so when I decided that this movie collection was far too weighted towards what Andy bought, I grabbed it. And if he didn’t like it? Well, I can think of at least ten movies in the collection that he bought that I subsequently hated. So, I wasn’t really all that fussed over the possibility.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t remember absolutely everything about this movie. I knew it was told in three sections and I remembered how bizarre things got at the end and I remembered the rave and substitute drugs at the beginning, but the middle was a blur to me. What I do remember really liking was how you found out more about what was going on in the first story through the other stories. I like non-linear storytelling, though this isn’t quite Pulp Fiction levels of complexity. I think it probably wishes it was, but it’s not. Instead it starts with a scene from the end of the timeline, then follows three different storylines covering the same general timeline, one after the other. Now, my one real issue here is the choice of opening scene. For one, at the end of the movie the plot continues a fair bit past the scene that opens the movie. For two, as a scene to bookend the movie with, it’s sort of a weak one. Which is a shame, because the last section of the movie is the strongest.

Ignoring the bookend scene, which I’ll return to, the movie begins at a grocery store where main character Ronna has been working a double shift on Christmas eve to try and make enough money to pay her rent. If she doesn’t pay, she’s out on the street. On Christmas. When another employee asks her to take his shift so he can go to Vegas that night, she agrees. Then, when a couple of guys at the supermarket ask her if she can get them any drugs she decides hey, that’s a great way to get the money she needs. And what follows is a comedy of errors without much of the comedy part. Ronna’s inexperienced at this and Todd, the guy she’s trying to buy from, knows it. Ronna gets spooked when trying to sell what she’s got and ends up flushing it all. Ronna has to find a way to get back what she spent on the drugs in the first place. Ronna shoplifts asprin and the like from a pharmacy and heads for a rave, passing off cold meds as ecstasy to stoned raver twerps. Todd finds out she’s selling something after telling him she’d had to ditch it all and goes after her with a gun. Ronna gets hit by a car. Ronna? Is not having a good night.

That is how the movie starts. With someone in dire straits making her own life considerably worse by getting in over her head. As you might guess, it’s not my favorite part of the movie. I think I’ve been pretty clear on how I feel about when movies show miserable people making themselves (and others) more miserable. What saves this movie are two things: One, there’s a decent bit of humor in how this all plays out, with some fun dialogue and Ronna’s determined attitude about passing Tylenol off as E. Two, that’s not the whole movie. That bit finishes with Ronna lying in a ditch and things look pretty bleak and then all of a sudden we’re back at the grocery store with Ronna agreeing to take a third shift so her coworker, Simon, can go to Vegas. And so now we’re off to Vegas with Simon.

Simon, unlike Ronna, is not a miserable guy. He’s snarky and obnoxious and full of himself. He’s also pretty obviously a jackass, so I honestly don’t mind when he ends up getting himself in some real shit in Vegas. I do feel for his buddies, two of whom get food poisoning and end up having to flee Vegas while horribly ill. The other buddy I feel even worse for, since he’s with Simon the whole time and ends up right alongside him when Simon feels up a stripper and accidentally shoots a bouncer and so on and so forth. But they get out of Vegas and head back to LA and all seems well. Except for how Simon used a credit card belonging to another friend of his. A friend he usually buys drugs from. Yes, Todd, the same one who threatened Ronna at the end of the first section. Oops for Simon, huh?

And then we’re back at the beginning again, and this is where it gets weird, because we’re not following Todd or Ronna’s friend Claire or really anyone you might think we would. Instead we’re with the two guys who wanted to score some drugs from Simon and asked Ronna instead since Simon’s in Vegas and actually? They’re actors helping out a local cop who’s trying to bust Simon so he can use Simon to bust Todd. And once you’ve gotten to this point, well, a whole lot of little things from the other plots start to make sense even while this one gets stranger and stranger, with mixed up relationships and allegations of cheating and tube socks and Amway-that-isn’t-Amway and naked William Fichtner. Everyone ends up back at the rave again and there’s Ronna and there’s Ronna getting hit by a car and there’s more details about how that even happened and the absurdity of it is really very well done.

My problem here is two-fold: First of all, the three sections fit together well enough in terms of plot, but they’re uneven in tone by quite a lot. Second, if you’re going to go making something like this, it really should all come together right at the end. But this movie keeps going a good deal after we’ve hit the ends of the other plots. Like they were all unfinished and now here’s the end of all three, but there’s no real dividing line there. It feels sloppy. And then there’s the bookend scenes. We start out with Claire in a diner, talking about how she loves surprises on Christmas and how Christmas presents are great since you shake your present and feel it and think you know what it is but you really have no idea and that’s what life is like! Thank you, Claire Gump. Now, I think I get where that was supposed to go, but it’s such a trite way of attempting to describe the movie itself. Very hamfisted. And since the movie continues well past that at the end, it turns out not to be much of a bookend after all. So why bother with it? Overall it’s a fun movie, especially by the time you hit the third chapter. But it’s also messy and sloppily put together.

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October 11, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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