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Alpha Dog

Alpha Dog

4.4 5
Director: Nick Cassavetes

Cast: Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Bruce Willis


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A drug dealer moves on to bigger crimes in an effort to settle a score with disastrous results in this drama inspired by actual events. Though barely out of his teens, Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) has already built a lucrative career for himself selling drugs -- he has his own home, a luxury car, and posse of friends who do double duty


A drug dealer moves on to bigger crimes in an effort to settle a score with disastrous results in this drama inspired by actual events. Though barely out of his teens, Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) has already built a lucrative career for himself selling drugs -- he has his own home, a luxury car, and posse of friends who do double duty as his crew, including Elvis (Shawn Hatosy), Frankie (Justin Timberlake), and Tiko (Fernando Vargas). While life at Johnny's house is usually a constant party interrupted by occasional dope deals, Johnny has lost all of his patience with Jake Mazursky (Ben Foster), a regular customer who has run up a large tab that he can't pay. Determined to clear Jake's account, Johnny and his boys plan to kidnap Jake and hold him for ransom, but when they happen upon his 15-year-old stepbrother, Zack (Anton Yelchin), they impulsively decide to take the youngster instead. Jake's father, Butch (David Thornton), and his stepmother, Olivia (Sharon Stone), are already furious with their junkie son when they learn about Zack's disappearance, and aren't sure what they should do. Meanwhile at Johnny's place, Frankie takes a liking to young Zack, who already admires his brother's high-flying lifestyle, and introduces the kid to the joys of grown-up partying, which he takes to with dangerous zeal. Also featuring Bruce Willis as Johnny's father, Alpha Dog was based on the real-life story of Jesse James Hollywood, who at the age of 21 became one of the youngest people to ever appear on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
The release of Alpha Dog was mired in controversy. The real-life murder-kidnapping that inspired it was still being tried in courts, and the deputy district attorney's role as a consultant on the film placed the trial in a state of legal limbo. That's too bad, because this ancillary fact -- along with the studio dumping it in January -- tended to obscure just how good Nick Cassavetes' film really is. Free from the exploitative qualities of Larry Clark's Kids, Alpha Dog shows the absolutely true transmogrification of bored suburban youths into drug kingpins and other reckless associates. At the same time -- and this is key -- it keeps its finger on their childlike humanity, which they retain even as their posturing forces them down the opposite path. Potentially complicating the message of Alpha Dog is the fact that it must partially glamorize its characters' portable poolside party lifestyle, because this is how the kidnapping victim -- who thinks he's undergoing a great moment of awakening -- experiences their excesses himself. But by film's end, Cassavetes, in his most mature film to date, has driven home the consequences of those excesses with unambiguous clarity. A key asset is his cast. Some of the most impressive, and in some cases underrated, young actors of their generation have gathered for Alpha Dog, including Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster as the feuding badasses who escalate the conflict. Foster, in particular, burns with an apoplexy we've never seen from him, wiry and intense as he neutralizes a dozen partygoers in his quest to find his brother. But two less likely suspects actually carry this film: singer Justin Timberlake, whose utter naturalism disarms the audience in every scene, and Anton Yelchin, whose innocent first tastes of the lifestyle are all the more touching, given the impending doom they carry with them.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]

Special Features

A Cautionary Tale: The Making of Alpha Dog

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Emile Hirsch Johnny Truelove
Justin Timberlake Frankie Ballenbacher
Bruce Willis Sonny Truelove
Sharon Stone Olivia Mazursky
Ben Foster Jake Mazursky
Anton Yelchin Zack Mazursky
Alex Kingston Tiffy Hartunian
Harry Dean Stanton Cosmo Gadabeeti
Alex Solowitz Bobby "911" Tiko
Fernando Vargas "TKO" Martinez
Olivia Wilde Angela Holden
Dominique Swain Susan Hartunian
Vincent Kartheiser Pick Giamo
Shawn Hatosy Elvis Schmidt
Vincent Laresca Actor
Shera Danese Actor
David Thornton Butch Mazursky
Heather Wahlquist Wanda Haynes
Lukas Haas Buzz Fecske
Christopher Marquette Keith Stratten

Technical Credits
Nick Cassavetes Director,Screenwriter
Spring Aspers Musical Direction/Supervision
Matthew Barry Casting,Co-producer
Robert Fraisse Cinematographer
Robert Geringer Executive Producer
Marina Grasic Executive Producer
Nancy Green-Keyes Casting,Co-producer
Andreas Grosch Executive Producer
Alan Heim Editor
Brad Jensen Associate Producer
Avram "Butch" Kaplan Executive Producer
Sidney Kimmel Producer
Jan Körbelin Executive Producer
Steven Markoff Executive Producer
Michael Mehas Associate Producer
Chuck Pacheco Producer
Frank Peluso Associate Producer
Alan Petherick Art Director
Andreas Schmid Executive Producer
Sara Jane Slotnick Costumes/Costume Designer
David A. Ticotin Asst. Director
Dominic Watkins Production Designer
Ed White Sound/Sound Designer
Craig Woods Sound/Sound Designer
Aaron Zigman Score Composer

Scene Index

Disc #1, Side B -- Alpha Dog [Standard]
1. Parenting (Main Titles) [4:33]
2. Business As Usual [3:21]
3. Knocking 'Em Dead [6:05]
4. It's On! [6:58]
5. Got to Get Out [4:58]
6. Pay Up [3:52]
7. Playing Games [5:58]
8. Day One [2:00]
9. Looking for Truelove [:08]
10. Day Two [:42]
11. Finding a Solution [:33]
12. Day Three [1:27]
13. Marco... Polo... [1:03]
14. Going Home [1:41]
15. Looking at Life [5:02]
16. No Choice [:28]
17. Their Own Rules [1:29]
18. Closing In [2:29]
19. On the Run [:42]
20. End Titles [4:42]


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Alpha Dog 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
ALPHA DOG is a tough movie to watch and to review. The story, in part because it is true, is repugnant, and the slice of life in 1999 in the San Gabriel Valley, California is disturbing to the point of nausea. But this heinous kidnap/murder of a 15-year-old kid by his peers is captured in an intense manner by writer/director Nick Cassavetes in the way he has cast, directed, and propelled this story of the infamous Jesse James Hollywood to the screen. It is tough to watch but it needed to be put in front of us to make us examine current parenting/adolescent dysfunction and the possible results. The story is so well known that summarizing it is most likely unnecessary. Cassavetes uses the superimposed documentary technique to validate the times and the characters involved in this crime ridden case. The true problem begins with severely dysfunctional parenting and extends into the drug and alcohol abusing, moneyed by crime, irreverent amoral teenagers driven by greed and lack of self discipline that results in the wasted death of a kid who happened to be the brother of one of the troubled, drug addled teenies: a 15-year-old was kidnapped and murdered for a bad drug debt of $1200.! The cast is strong and includes Emil Hirsch as Johnny (the Alpha Dog), Justin Timberlake, Shawn Hatosy, Fernando Vargas, and Vincent Kartheiser as Johnny's 'gang' Ben Foster as the addicted debtor whose brother Anton Yelchin is killed and Bruce Willis, Sharon Stone, David Thornton, and Harry Dean Stanton as some of the severely dysfunctional parents. They make a fine ensemble cast, especially the despicable characters they are asked to portray. The language is wholly gutter oriented and becomes tiresome - just like listening to it on our streets. Cassavetes ends his film with a survey of the consequences faced by each of the characters and that helps bring closure to an otherwise difficult bit of history to swallow. If only there were some hopeful solutions for changing this type of behavior given, but then that might have blunted in impact of the film. Grady Harp
Guest More than 1 year ago
Alpha dog was a really good movie. At first I thought it was just another boring flick,but I was wrong. I also doubted Justin Timberlake as well, however his role wasn't bad. He played it better than I thought. Can't always jugde a book by it's cover!
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