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Alpha Dog


It's a tale of kids dealing drugs, hurting one another and masquerading as adults. It's just short of an all-star cast with Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone as parents and Emile Hirsch (The Girl Next Door), Ben Foster (X-Men: The Last Stand) and ex-N'SYNCer Justin Timberlake playing foul-mouthed ingrates.

The general premise is this: Guy's pal owes money to drug dealer; drug dealer kidnaps guy's little brother as collateral; dealer and friends drink, smoke pot and party with the kidnapped; fear of cops sets in; decision must be made to free or shoot victim.

After opening with the worst rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" ever, the film jumps to interview footage of Bruce Willis talking about his son's (Hirsch) crimes. The movie toys with a documentary-within-a-film style, taking breaks from the action to show characters in retrospect, but the artistic approach serves as more distraction than enhancement.

Further muddling the film's purpose is an on-screen tally of how many characters witnessed the abduction, leading to an educated guess that the film will end with a courtroom drama. But it never comes.

Outside of an emotionally charged scene in which the nabbed teen begs for reprieve from would-be killers, the movie plays like a bunch of badly behaving teens in way over their heads, 95 percent of them sporting fake tattoos.

What could've been an updated look at Lord of the Flies forgets its original source of conflict and meanders to its conclusion. :