Alpha Dog | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Alpha Dog

Nick Cassavetes' drama is inspired by the recent travails of Jesse James Hollywood, a Southern California drug dealer who hit the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List at the age of 21. That sounds potentially interesting, but the route to that infamy, as depicted here in the character of Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch), is typical fare: white suburban kids playacting as gangsters; pretty girls, fast cars and mucho drugs; and petty disputes that blow up into senseless crimes. Cassavetes and his crew of pumped-up actors, including Shawn Hatosy, Ben Foster and a better-than-expected Justin Timberlake, deliver that self-aware high-gloss on bad-boy behavior that passes today for edgy. Alpha Dog is all surface and no soul, a string of f-words with no underlying poetry -- and too little to flesh out the underlying why of these new Brat Packers with guns. Trotting out flash-over-substance oldsters Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone as parents just reinforces the juvenile snarkiness.