Not too many original movies seem to be coming out of Hollywood these days for the kiddie and young adult crowds. Reinterpretations of more mature films (Cruel Intentions), better 80s precursors (Can't Hardly Wait), genre-defining teensploitation (She's All That) and even Shakespeare (10 Things I Hate About You) are glutting the cineplexes across America. Adolescent remakes and conspicuous consumption are the rage with the youthful masses, and entertainment value is predicated not on plot creativity but on recognizable faces.
Critics and movie buffs are arguably more discerning, although they seem currently to regard movies which are self-aware of their own unoriginality as creative wonders (Scream, for example). The less afraid a movie is to flaunt its derivative nature, the more successful it can be.
Go fits right into that mold, and it may be the most unabashedly recycled story line for the 15-to-25 demographic released along this trend. It blatantly cops the perspective and nihilism of Pulp Fiction while riding high off the insouciant youth cool of films such as Fast Times at Ridgmont High. Updated with a late 90s reference, the all-night rave, and late 90s stars, Go is not so much a well-scripted movie as it is an entertainingly frivolous amalgamation of keen actors and cinematographic one-liners. There's a sensation of recognition that pervades the movie, that you've heard the quips and seen the scenes before. Yet Go reinvigorates the themes of past fare with quirky, novel twists. The result is a movie with characters that are great at going nowhere fast.
Even more fun than being absorbed into a stimulating, decadent world of sex, drugs and No Doubt's fluffed up version of rock 'n' roll is Sarah Polley, who really makes Go the success that it is. Polley indulges in 18-year-old Ronna's predicament, which blossoms from the opportunity to make some much-needed rent money off a drug deal while her friend Simon (Desmond Askew), a supermarket co-worker and the usual middle man, is out of town. Conveying Ronna's sly confidence in the temporary world of criminal mischief is Polley's ultimate strength. Her character deftly handles every potentially dangerous situation, able to hock her friend Claire (Katie Holmes) as collateral for a bottleful of ecstasy, sell over-the-counter pills as drugs at a rave and field such situations as arrest and death. The transformation from indolent suburban checkout girl to manipulative dealer fielding one obstacle after another through a night of romp and circumstance is one that Polley makes believable and even tempting.
Ronna and her newfound talent comprise only one of the perspectives that tie the main characters' worlds together. Since the movie is told in three main sections, each from the experience of one or two people, several overlapping segments slowly but surely become apparent. Starting from the same supermarket scene that launched Ronna's story, Simon, trading shifts with Ronna, goes on a joy ride to Las Vegas with friends to experience the high stakes world of sleazy strip clubs, car chases and guns. His abandon is remarkable, and Askew comfortably plays up Simon's amorality and detachment from responsibility with wide-eyed innocence.
The last substantial chunk of the movie tails the meanderings of Adam (Scott Wolf) and Zack (Jay Mohr), a pair of popular television actors, beginning with their attempt to lure Ronna into a sting operation in exchange for absolution from a previous violation of the law. The setup becomes secondary as they are propositioned by a truly quirky couple, the cop that arranges the sting (William Fichtner) and his wife (Jane Krakowski), and then discover they share a common love interest. This latter revelation brings Adam and Zack back into Ronna's world at the rave, where they find themselves in a new violation of the law.
Secondary to the main subplots of the movie, but certainly a unifying character, is Todd (Timothy Olyphant). He has many relationships: Simon's friend and provider, Ronna's drug connection, the ultimate target of the police sting and the object of Claire's budding sexual interest. Olyphant's Todd is sinister and alluring, the embodiment of a bad boy who can be both repelling and difficult to resist. Second only to Polley, Olyphant is a stand-out on screen.
_Go_'s world of inevitable connections is ruled by Todd's prevalence and the overlapping situations interspersed throughout the film, providing the glue that makes the intersecting perspective angle of the movie work. What sustains the rest of the film are surprises weaved through each story that keep the audience guessing about what absurdity might pop up next.
For many reasons, _Go_ is perfect for short attention spans, which means it's perfect for its targeted audience. There's the temptation of quick cash, the constant, sensational series of shocking events and the impulsive tendencies of all the characters that make the movie difficult to resist. Doug Liman, who directed _Swingers_, makes sure the frenetic pace is smooth but not overproduced so the viewer's suspension of disbelief need only be marginal. And that's what the audience should appreciate: the perception of an appealing, dangerous reality that is within reach but still a safe distance away.
The possibility of challenging the system, skirting the law by embracing every vice imaginable and coming out of the experience alive by the end of the night is appealing simply in its outrageousness. The cast of _Go_ convincingly embraces this romantic notion of rebellion, giving us an entertaining peek at the experience so we don't have to suffer through it ourselves.
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