Blow (2001)

(In theaters, April 2001) I believe that it’s unfair to compare a film directly to another, but Blow tries so hard to be another Goodfellas that -just this time- I won’t be able to contain myself. Unfortunately, putting Blow against Scorsese’s 1990 film is a perfect illustration of the differences between an average hack job and a true masterpiece. Blow at first suffers from acute averageness, as there’s really no reason to get interested in the story of George Jung, an American kid who somehow ends up being one of the biggest drug dealers in the history of the United States. Sure, it’s fun for a while as he collects money, cars and a trophy wife, but like a sugar rush, this soon passes to let way to Jung’s downward spiral and a film that ends up hypocritically asking us to pity the poor, poor drug dealer. It’s a repulsive notion, especially when that period where Jung imported “85% of the cocaine that came into the United States” is quickly glossed over with a funny thirty second clip about storing boxes of money, without any thought to the consequences of that traffic. It gets worse, as the onscreen action becomes more and more subjective, with poor George Jung being set up by police, wife and associates in the type of narrative that blames pretty much everyone but himself. The lack of depth of Penelope Cruz’s character will remind you of “psycho ex-girlfriends” stories. Still, the film is adequate, with some entertaining scenes and a good performance by Paul Reubens, who looks a lot like he did in Mystery Men. Of course, Johnny Depp does nothing less than great work in a role that requires him to look real bad. Still, a disappointment, a customary film and a curious attempt to redeem a character that, despite everything, remains a loser. Compare and contrast to Goodfellas‘ “Paul Hill”, a winner even at the end.

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