Alpha Dog 2006

Critics score:
55 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: As successful as the unlikely casting of Timberlake turns out to be, some of Cassavetes' other choices are disastrous. Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: Alpha Dog, a tale of a group of drug-fueled teenagers, is gritty to the point of painful abrasion. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: 'This'll be over by tomorrow,' the big dog says to his prey at one point. Alpha Dog is full of good actors, young and old, making the most of such deceptively simple lines. Read more

Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader: Apart from the grim forebodings of tragedy, writer-director Nick Cassavetes seems to have modeled this ambitious docudrama on Larry Clark's kiddie-porn shockers, but he doesn't know what to leave out, and the movie becomes excessively complicated. Read more

Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle: As uneven as the film is, those with strong stomachs will find it worth sticking with. Read more

Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Nick Cassavetes' new film, Alpha Dog, has a compelling, ripped-from-the-headlines vibe. Read more

Scott Tobias, AV Club: [Alpha Dog is] intermittently bemused or tragic, but utterly lacking a conscience or a point of view. Read more

Bill Muller, Arizona Republic: Among the many movies about the California drug scene and lowlife, youthful wannabe thugs, Alpha Dog is far from the leader of the pack. Read more

Wesley Morris, Boston Globe: These aren't the psychologically exploded youths of Rebel Without a Cause, or even The Outsiders. They're characters in a long, violent, unbleeped episode of MTV's Cribs. Read more

Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times: The incessant reminders of the outcome, along with the liberal use of split screen, serve only to create a disconnect from what's on-screen. Read more

Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle: Recovering from the Harlequin bathos of The Notebook, writer-director Nick Cassavetes directs this bogus-homeboy scenario as though his street cred depended on it. Read more

Tom Charity, Alpha Dog is no travesty, but I would trade 95 percent accuracy for, say, 25 percent insight. Read more

Michael Booth, Denver Post: I truly doubt Hollywood will produce anything this year that bottoms Alpha Dog for offensively bad filmmaking. Read more

Wendy Case, Detroit News: Disturbing and energizing at the same time, Alpha Dog channels a flood of young talent through a story of foggy intentions, bad decisions and righteous partying that works because it feels (and is) so dangerously real. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: Cassavetes (The Notebook) throws in everything he can recycle to grab a core-demo viewer -- slutty teens making out, blaring rock music, guns, split screens. Read more

Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press: While Alpha Dog is a cautionary tale, it too often revels in its own bad-boy attitude. Read more

Scott Foundas, L.A. Weekly: In his best film to date, Nick Cassavetes directs with ferocious energy, taking scenes past their logical stopping points and pushing his actors to, but never over, the precipice of absurdity. Read more

Christy Lemire, Associated Press: The idea may sound melodramatic but the result has realistic bite. Read more

Jan Stuart, Newsday: Cassavetes coaxes persuasive performances from Justin Timberlake and Anton Yelchin in this flashy re-creation of a 1999 kidnapping-murder in cushy Southern California, which overdoes the seamy side of suburbia angle. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: Alpha Dog may have some of Larry Clark's territory, and even some of Tarantino's markings. But it's still a mutt. And no matter how much it marks its territory, it never finds its own way home. Read more

Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News: Who would have thought that a real-life tale of sex, drugs and murder could be so instantly forgettable? Read more

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: Irresponsible, uncommercial but surprisingly watchable. Read more

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: [Writer/director Cassavetes] never masters the tone and lands as many unintentional laughs as intentional ones. But he still manages, on occasion, to chill you to the bone. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: There's more voyeurism going on here, and less insight into a certain culture (the young and the wasted), than the filmmakers would probably admit to, but the performances are scarily real, and the outcome, well, is just scary. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: Director Nick Cassavetes should be commended for the unflinching manner in which he tells the story -- it packs a punch, although it lingers too long to be truly unsettling. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, Cassavetes -- a sometime actor himself -- doesn't seem to understand actors at all. From the finished product, it looks as if his preferred method of guiding his actors is to egg them on rather than nudge them toward restraint. Read more

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Read more

Miriam Di Nunzio, Chicago Sun-Times: The movie's biggest surprise is Timberlake, who finds the heart and soul of the not-so-tough Frankie and makes him the film's most complete character. Read more

Stephen Cole, Globe and Mail: Alpha Dog is a commanding ensemble piece. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: Cassavetes starts to lose the plot at the precise moment he starts keeping exact track of it. Read more

Trevor Johnston, Time Out: A movie which has been put together with occasional skill but lacks a compelling reason to exist. Read more

Melissa Anderson, Time Out: The worst movie of the year. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: Alpha Dog is almost a sociological study of a youthful culture awash in freedom and steeped in violence, drugs, casual sex and offensive language. It also shines a light on parents who have abdicated their positions of guidance and discipline. Read more

Justin Chang, Variety: Alpha Dog is standard-issue tabloid fare pimped out as a serious true-crime saga. Read more

Rob Nelson, Village Voice: Director Nick Cassavetes has a blast with scenes of testosterone-fueled aggression (until it's time to repent), working the subwoofer in a way that'll surely boost DVD sales among boys with bedroom posters of Tony Montana. Read more

Robert Wilonsky, Village Voice: If nothing else, Alpha Dog's worth a look for the performance of Justin Timberlake, the moral center of a movie sorely in need of some conscience. Read more

Stephen Hunter, Washington Post: The movie suffers from an uncertain structure, but it boasts an extraordinary naturalism, not particularly flattering. Read more