Wake Up and `Go-Go'

FILM GODirected by Doug Liman Starring Sarah Polley, Kaire Holmes, Taye Diggs, Scott Wolf Miramax

Not too many original movies seem to be coming out of Hollywood these days for the kiddies 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 Cineplex’s across America. Adolescent remarks 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 coworker 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) andZack (Jay Mohr), a pair of popular televisionactors, beginning with their attempt to lure Ronnainto a sting operation in exchange for absolutionfrom a previous violation of the law. The setupbecomes secondary as they are propositioned by atruly quirky couple, the cop that arranges thesting (William Fichtner) and his wife (JaneKrakowski( and then discover they share a commonlove interest. This latter revelation brings Adamand Zack back into Ronna's world at the rave,where they find themselves in a new violation ofthe law.

Secondary to the main subplots of the movie butcertainly a unifying character, is Todd (TimothyOlyphant). He has many relationships: Simon'sfriend and provider, Ronna's drug connection, theultimate target of the police sting and the objectof Claire's budding sexual interest. Olyphant'sTodd is sinister and alluring, the embodiment of abad boy who can be both repelling and difficultto resist. Second only to Polley, Olyphant is astand-out on screen.

Go's world of inevitable connections is ruledby Todd's prevalence and the overlappingsituations interspersed throughout the film,providing the glue that makes the intersectingperspective angle of the movie work. What sustainsthe rest of the film are surprises weaved througheach story that keep the audience guessing about whatabsurdity might pop up next.

For many reasons, Go is perfect for shortattention spans, which means it's perfect for itstargeted audience. There's the temptation of quickcash, the constant, sensational series of shockingevents and the impulsive tendencies of all thecharacters that make the movie difficult toresist. Doug Liman, who directed Swingers, makessure the frenetic pace is smooth but notoverproduced so the viewer's suspension ofdisbelief need be only marginal. And that's whatthe audience should appreciate: the perception ofan appealing, dangerous reality that is withinreach but still a safe distance away.

The possibility of challenging the system,skirting the law by embracing every viceimaginable and coming out of the experience aliveby the end of the night is appealing simply inits outrageousness. The cast of Go convincinglyembraces this romantic notion of rebellion, givingus an entertaining peek at the experience so wedon't have to suffer through it ourselves.Courtesy of Columbia Pictures