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New Line
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Director: Ted Demme
Producers: Ted Demme, Joel Stillerman
Written by: David McKenna, Nick Cassavetes
Cast: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Rachel Griffiths, Ray Liotta, Franka Potente, Paul Reubens

Rating: out of 5

BLOW is Hollywood’s latest foray into the dangerous, complex, and emotionally charged world of the drug trade. Based on the true story of George Jung (Depp), director Demme unveils Jung’s fascinating transformation from boy next door to king of an empire.

George Jung is just like any other boy in his working-class Massachusetts neighborhood. He goes to school, plays football in the yard, and hangs out with his friends. And, like other kids his age, he is determined that when he grows up he will not be like his parents. He sees how his father struggles to bring home the bacon while his mother longs for all the best that money can buy. No matter the cost, George is not going to let money stand in the way of his future happiness and success.

After graduating from high school, Jung and his best friend Tuna move to that magical, mystical land—California. Bikini-clad women, sandy beaches, and warm, sunny weather greet them… as does their rent and other bills no longer covered by mom and dad. The entrepreneurial Jung, determined to be a success, is quick to notice an opportunity to make money. Seeing the increasing demand for marijuana (hey, this is the ’70s), he partners up with Derek (Reubens) who is a friend of his girlfriend, Barbara (Potente), and, more importantly, a key supplier to the LA area.

In the blink of an eye, Jung becomes hugely successful (not to mention wealthy), dealing marijuana not only to southern California, but also to college students all the way across the nation. Unfortunately we all know that what goes up must come down. Jung is eventually imprisoned for selling drugs. Who could have known that the jail time would actually further his career? While in prison, Jung makes an acquaintance who sets him up with none other than Pablo Escobar, the king of the Colombian drug trade. Leaving the peas and carrots life of marijuana behind him, Jung partners up with Escobar to bring cocaine to the United States. Jung is immediately successful and the money just pours in. But just how long can one man’s luck last when he’s consumed by the worst drug of all—money?

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and credit much of my enjoyment to the outstanding abilities of a truly gifted ensemble cast. Depp goes beyond the typical unidimensional portrayal of a drug dealer as a bad guy working with dirty people to make him filthy rich. Instead, Depp allows the audience to see George Jung first and foremost as a person just like you and me. The whole drug dealer thing is almost an afterthought. I was also quite pleased by the performance of German actress Franka Potente. Known for her starring role in the cult film RUN, LOLA, RUN, Potente delivers a strong performance that will likely have casting directors running in her direction. Also, Paul Reubens proves that there’s more to him than Pee Wee as he takes us on a big adventure as Derek, drug supplier and hair stylist extraordinaire.

Ted Demme comes through for us with BLOW and I suggest audiences repay the favor by making the film their movie night choice.

—K. Theis

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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