By Rob Blackwelder
As "Son of Pulp Fiction" movies go, "Go"one is a pretty good ride.
Doug Liman's follow-up to the now infamous pop-classic"Swingers," this caustic comedy follows sarcastic grocery clerk Sarah Polley ("TheSweet Hereafter") through her botched first attempt at dealing drugs, before rewinding and covering some of the sameevents from two other perspectives.
The petulant Ronna (Polley) is all attitude and bad judgmentas a bitter and behind on her rent SoCal grocery clerk who takes a shiftfor Simon (Desmond Askew), a Ecstasy-dealing co-worker, so he can go toLas Vegas for the weekend. Desperate for cash, she decides to fill in forhim on a drug run as well after being approached by a pair of TV actors(Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr) looking to score some X.
Ronna visits Simon's source and uses her guileless bestfriend (Katie Holmes) as collateral. But when the exchange starts to looklike a bust, she flushes the drugs and ends up trying to duck the short-changeddealer at a rave, where she's passing off aspirin as Ecstasy hoping tomake enough money to get herself out of danger.
Liman's kinetic direction takes on the pacing of Ronna'spanic, and the script is peppered with dry wit, including a stoned guy'simagined psychic conversation with a cat, subtitled for the audience toread along.
This first act does not end well for Ronna and, despiteLiman's energetic efforts and a thumping soundtrack (he captures raveshere the way he captured swing clubs in his last film), for a while thepicture feels flat -- in part because it's hard to get behind Ronna, whokind of gets what she deserves.
But then the story rewinds to its opening scene and followsSimon to Las Vegas with a car full of cronies and "Go" startsto pick up the pace, becoming something of a perilous caper comedy.
Simon gets wildly drunk, loses his money, steals a Ferrari,beds a pair of bridesmaids from a wedding in his hotel, shoots a stripjoint bouncer and adrenalines his way through a giddy high-speed chase-- during which he's in his element, he claims, because he learned to drivewatching cheesy American cop shows.
After Simon's episode, Liman takes us back to the beginningone more time to learn the fate of the two TV actors, who, it turns out,were working for the cops in order to get drug charges against them dropped.When Ronna ruins the bust by flushing her product and taking off, Wolfand Mohr nervously accept a pointed invitation to dinner from one of thedetectives, and find themselves subjected to a strange and suggestive salespitch for Amway products. Once they extact themselves from that situation,they wind up at the rave from the first act, confonting a mutual loverand becoming embroiled in Ronna's unpleasant fate.
By this time "Go" as definitely found its stride,and it just keeps getting more droll the stranger the circumstances become.
Liman's snappy, Tarantino-esque storytelling style isn'toverly original (Tarantino himself aped it from other directors), but hehas a symbiotic feel for John August's script and seems to have a giftfor wrapping everyday characters in dangerous but silly circumstances.
Unlike many post-"Pulp Fiction" crime-actiongrit-coms, the characters here are as interesting here as the situations,and that's what makes the difference.
Although I had little sympathy for her character, SarahPolley -- who was so devastatingly effective as a teenager crippled ina bus crash in "The Sweet Hereafter" -- gives a trenchant performancethat exuded acerbic, youthful malcontention. Cutie pie Katie Holmes isperfectly cast as a sheltered fellow shop clerk who comes under Polley'sbad influence. Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf play their second-tier TV starsas likable rubes, adding a subtle layer of endearing dorky-ness to theircharacters. But Desmond Askew take home first prize as the hyperactiveboob and dilettante dealer whose inability to play it cool gets him andall his friends in serious trouble in Vegas.
"Go" is by no means the instant classic "Swingers"became, but it's an enjoyable effort, and I'm happy to predict that DougLiman is no directorial flash in the pan.
Run time: 102 mins
In Theaters: Friday 9th April 1999
Box Office Worldwide: $28.5M
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 66 Rotten: 6
IMDB: 7.3 / 10
Director: Doug Liman
Starring: Katie Holmes as Claire, Sarah Polley as Ronna, Jay Mohr as Zack, Timothy Olyphant as Todd, William Fichtner as Burke, Scott Wolf as Adam, Suzanne Krull as Stringy Haired Woman, Desmond Askew as Simon Baines, Nathan Bexton as Mannie, Robert Peters as Switterman, Melissa McCarthy as Sandra, Taye Diggs as Marcus, James Duval as Singh, Jane Krakowski as Irene, Jay Paulson as Loop
Also starring: Breckin Meyer
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