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Movie Review


MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for pervasive drug content and language, some violence and sexuality

Reviewed by: Todd Adams

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
2 hr.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Relevant Issues
Johnny Depp as George Jung in “Blow”
Featuring: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Jordi Molla, Ray Liotta, Rachel Griffiths
Director: Ted Demme
Producer: _____
Distributor: New Line Cinema

“Blow” isn’t going to garner universal appeal. “Blow” doesn’t hold much for Christian appeal either. I lost count of the F-words (over 110 of them, according to ScreenIt!). Nevertheless, “Blow” was worth my two hours. It provides an inside look at the sick world of drug trading with a strong performance by Johnny Depp throughout. The two “drug” movies of 2001—“Blow” and “Traffic”—pull the shades off of any glamour or naivety one might have about the allures of the drug world.

Johnny Depp is the principle character in “Blow”, playing the mega drugpusher George Jung (based on a true story). Along the way he links up with a wild woman well suited to his lifestyle played by Penélope Cruz. But the real story is singly focused on Depp. His family life, personal choices, drug ventures and vices are developed throughout the film. Depp’s acting, the script and directing are all solid enough to hold the film together. An interesting style of the movie is Depp providing a backward looking narration of his life autobiographical style from beginning to end. I found “Blow” to be interesting and worthwhile even though it dragged at times. Ironically, the film also becomes oversentimental at times as drugpusher George Jung’s life starts to cave in.

There are a lot of scriptures which talk about the deeds of evildoers and their consequences. “Blow” ventures into such a world with its many deceptions. I think the film succeeds at illustrating how the false allure of a fast and furious business such as pushing cocaine can blind the soul to the real world. Unlike “Traffic” which presents the drugusers in its story, “Blow” is focused entirely on the pushers and their game. The moral offenses of this film such as sexual situations and lots of swearing are not out of place in the context of this story.

“Blow” was a better film than I expected. It leads the viewer into the glitter of the fast life then unravels it completely. Some will argue that we end up feeling too sorry for the bad guy. Perhaps that is because he does learns the values of life but far too late. My opinion is that what we see is how the world of drugs can completely ruin a life, leaving no opportunity to go back and undo the damage. Hollywood isn’t glorifying sin in this film. Anyone who views “Blow” will undoubtedly have a wellfounded distaste for all of the wrong decisions George Jung made. And that makes “Blow” worth seeing.

Viewer Comments
Positive—I thought that this was a very well done movie. While the language and whole topic of the movie may be a little to much for some people, the message itself is a strong statement about living a materialistic life. Depp’s father tells him that money isn’t important and doesn’t even exists at the beginning of the movie. After watching the rise and fall of his drug empire, Depp learns the same lesson. In the end he became an empty shell of a man, destroyed by his fleshy lusts after money and power. He had it all; big house, many cars, a loving family. All these things ultimately didn’t matter. At the end, Depp’s character realized that the only thing that actually had any kind of meaning in his life was his love for his daughter. I really enjoyed the movie as well as the message. The way it presented the glamorous side of drug dealing and then showed how twisted and dark Depp’s life became is a strong statement against materialistic values.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4½]
Corry Flatt, age 18
Positive—I thought this was a very well made film. I really enjoyed it. Johnny Depp gives ANOTHER great performance in it. I really liked the flashbacks to childhood and his experiences with his father. [played brilliantly by Ray Liotta] The movie played out perfectly, I thought. It started out hip, cool, and devil may care, with scenes that had Depp walking through an airport nonchalantly while the song “Black Betty” blares at us. Then, at about middle age, things seem to start to get more “business” like, and they spiral out of control. By the end, Jung is a sad pathetic man who wasted his entire life. The acting was phenomenal in the film [How about Paul Rubens? Great job!] and I thought a nice amount of humor was put in at the right moments. I know that it has gotten a great deal of flack for its “lack of caring” about all of the people whose lives the drugs ruined. Well, this isn’t “Traffic” people. This was a “rise to the top, fall to the bottom” story of a lost man who made a lot of bad choices. I liked it very much. Nicely done Mr. Depp.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
Positive—This is a movie that’s like getting high. You experience euphoria; laugh at danger and let go of the wheel. Just a little bit. And then just a little bit more. And more. And more. it’s addicting and exhilerating. Until of course you come down and George Jung comes crashing down. A small town boy makes a promise that he will never live in poverty. He lives between the two poles of his father and mother. His father a hard worker and a loving man who is a moral teacher of his son and will do anything for his family. His mother who loves material things and is off and running when the going gets rough but always returns when she can’t find something better. George Jung may not realize it but he imitates both of them. He finds an easy way to make money. Lots of money. Importing drugs from Columbia. But in the end he loses everything including everything that matters. A sad movie. A good movie and a lesson for all about living in excess.
Don Lambirth, age 32


Negative—I kept hearing that this movie was “a cautionary tale.” It is, of course. But only for those who understand that it is indeed cautionary. The story is told in a kind of rags-to-riches Horatio Alger tone. People with vision, hard work, and almost demonically bizarre luck, build a big business. it’s the American Dream, of course. The director, Demme, shows us this. But he isn’t ironic enough. His subtle direction is almost too subtle. In the end, we are asked to pity a man who lost his money and his daughter.

Yet we are not shown how much sorrow his great enterprise caused the nation. The story is a true story. And one can see that the subject of this story has no guilt about his former life, no insight into himself, only sorrow for his lost money and anger against the women in his life. The average teenager will not be able to see through this “poor me” pose. And definitely not with Mr Demme’s glorification of his hero Georg Young.

Nope, this film doesn’t seem like a cautionary tale at all. it’s a bad guy saying “don’t blame me. I suffered too. I was just a kid with business flair who didn’t know better.”
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4]
Carole McDonnell, age 41
Movie Critics
…certainly has its moments of greatness, [but] it tries too hard to sell us a product we would have bought had they not pushed it too hard…
…Sexual innuendo, including references to genitalia, oral sex, and homosexuality…
…turns sentimental at the end trying to earn Jung sympathy—a tough sell…
Mike Clark, USA Today