A.J.'s Rating: 2 Stars  (I'm feeling generous toward poor George)
Directed By:  Ted Demme
Starring:  Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Franka Potente,
Paul Reubens, Jordi Molla, Ray Liotta, Rachel Griffith
Rated:  R  (Sex / Drugs / Rock & Roll)
Running Time:  124 Minutes
    The film Blow is based on the true story of George Jung, a relatively normal kid from Massachusetts.  In search of a better life, he moves to California during the 1960's, finds that the pot there is much better than the stuff back home, and, with a little help from his friends, begins to distribute the happy weed to anyone willing to buy.  It seems there is quite a market for his little plants, and his business and fortune soon begin growing at exponential rates.  Through another series of plot-revealing circumstances, he eventually becomes the central supplier of high-grade cocaine for the American west coast during the 1970's and early 1980's.
    Sounds good so far, doesn't it?  Well, because Blow is based on the life of George Jung, as told by George Jung, the film has quite a bias toward making him someone you would like to have succeed. Yes, when things don't go right for George, this movie actually wants you to feel sorry for him!  For me, this is where Blow starts to do just that... blow.  Seriously, George Jung is so completely self-centered that he believes people should feel bad for him.  There is no mention in Blow of the countless other lives ruined by his distribution of Colombian cocaine.  There is no mention of the irreparable harm his product has done to society.  There is no mention of his actually caring about anyone other than himself, unless he has something personally to gain by that show of emotion.  There is no thought of redemption or teary epilogue with George realizing that what he had done is wrong.  There is just poor, poor George.  Oh, he had so much wealth.  He had so many toys.  He had possessed more than most people could ever imagine, and now it's gone.  Poor, poor George Jung.  We should all feel so sorry for him.  Well, that's an incredible load of crap.  At the end of this movie, in defiance to it's intended self-serving message, my actual reaction was more along the lines of, 'Good.  Serves you right!' 
    Technically, however, this film is very well done.  The acting is quite good, and Johnny Depp gives his all to portray George Jung in a sympathetic light.  Also, it was great to see former 'Pee-Wee', Paul Reubens, acting in something serious.  His and Johnny Depp's performances were the standouts of the film. 

    As far as the directing is concerned, it was also quite good.  I'll even go so far as to say that director Ted Demme has succeeded in executing one of the most professional rip-offs of Martin Scorsese's directing style that I have ever seen. Blow is what happens when aspiring directors watch the movie Goodfellas one too many times.  I realize Ted has a few projects under his belt, but guess what?  Ted Demme is still 'aspiring' to become a decent director.  It's such a shame.  Poor, poor Ted Demme.  I really feel for him.  (Oops, there goes my sarcasm again!)
    So, to recap, unless you're overflowing with compassion for someone who, by all accounts, deserves to rot in prison for the rest of his useless life, then it would be wise to pass up that line for Blow.
Review published
April 7, 2001
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