How many of you have attended a high school or college production of a
famous piece or work previously produced or published by some other form of
medium? Perhaps you attended your children's Shakespearean productions when
they were in high school, or even grade school. Did you like an amateur
production of 'Julius Caesar' or 'Hamlet' better than renderings by Marlon
Brando or the great Lord Laurence Olivier? I hope not. 'Go!' looks and
feels like an amateur production of 'Pulp Fiction'. I assume that for all
of you who are sports fans, that you also like the major leagues rather than
the minors. Now, it's true that filmmakers, musicians and artists draw
influences from others who lived before them or put out stupendous work in
their lifetime based on advice from others who have worked along similar
lines, but there is a huge difference between drawing a variation of
someone's work in contrast to deliberately ripping it off. Further
illustrating this point is that critics everywhere are comparing 'Go!' to
Quentin Tarantino's 1994 masterpiece 'Pulp Fiction' which probably has some
of the most memorable dialogue and repeated quotations since 1942's
'Casablanca'. It certainly ranks up there with any memorable film script
you can think of.
Set in Los Angeles like 'Pulp Fiction' was (do they have to be that obvious
about it?) 'Go!' basically centres itself around four major characters.
There is Ronna (Sarah Polley), a supermarket clerk who hates her job. She
works long hours for little pay and is facing eviction if she can't pay her
rent. She has a plan to deal some drugs on the side and winds up double
crossing a drug dealer after losing her stash which could cost her her life.
There is Simon (Desmond Askew), who embarks on a trip to Las Vegas with
three friends and upon doing so they get mixed up with dancing girls,
prostitutes and a nasty bouncer and his criminal father. There are Zack and
Adam (Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf). They are facing criminal charges unless
they can help the police nab a suspect in which case the charges against
them will be dropped. Other notable members of the cast Timothy Olyphant as
Todd, the drug dealer involved in Ronna's life. Taye Diggs as Marcus,
Simon's main companion on the trip to Vegas and a cop named Burke (William
Fichtner) breathing down Zack and Adam's neck. All of these stories take
place in conjunction with one another just like 'Pulp Fiction'.
In fairness, as I've said many times, a film should be judged on its own
merit but there are exceptions to the rule. You can't help but compare
'Go!' to 'Pulp Fiction'. What I really didn't like about 'Go!' was the fact
that while creating such a stark and obvious film, there is no development
on making the characters likable. Many of the characters in 'Pulp Fiction'
were likable even though they were scum bags. Tarantino had an uncanny way
of transmitting his vision to make it not only memorable but also separated
the good guys from the bad guys even though these were all wretched people.
You basically want to dismiss almost every character in 'Go!' as not likable
and the film gives you no one to root for.
The film is directed by Doug Liman who did 'Swingers' in 1996 and 'Getting
In' in 1994. His style looks and feels a lot of Steven Soderbergh, George
Armitage and David Fincher. Directors whose styles are better suited to a
technical job rather than as the man calling the shots on the set of a movie
in a very shallow and protracted manner. It also seemed pretty clear that
'Go!' was trying to act as valid social commentary as well as entertainment.
It succeeds somewhat in doing so and the performances in the film are good
but the rest of the film and its attempt to put forward an original idea
just isn't there and the film comes off as aloof and totally forgettable.
Copyright © 1999 Walter Frith