Energy, humor fly through `Go'

Review: It's yet another teen comedy, with all the requisite plot devices, but it's still fresh and funny.

April 09, 1999|By Ann Hornaday | Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC

"Go," the latest in this year's onslaught of teen and twentysomething comedies, lives up to its title, accelerating across the screen with jangly, vivid energy and irreverent humor.

Directed by the same filmmaker who made the cheekily retro "Swingers," "Go" bears the unmistakable thumbprint of an artist whose sense of his audience and its aesthetic is unfailing. Bursting with psychedelic energy and unfolding in a quick, time-warped narrative (thanks, Mr. Tarantino), "Go" is sure to please film-goers young enough to appreciate its soundtrack (dominated by bands like No Doubt and Massive Attack), its druggy humor and its abiding faith in the resilient power of youth.

"Go" transpires over a 24-hour period just before Christmas, somewhere in the vapid nether-regions of Los Angeles.

Ronna (Sarah Polley) works as a supermarket check-out girl with her friends Claire (Katie Holmes), Mannie (Nathan Bexton) and Simon (Desmond Askew). In the midst of a major mope -- hating her job, about to get evicted -- Ronna is approached by two good-looking shoppers (Jay Mohr, Scott Wolf) to help them buy some Ecstasy for the big rave that night.

From here on in, "Go" takes on a clever tripartite structure, first following Ronna on her encounters with L.A.'s drug sub-culture; then switching to Simon, who goes to Las Vegas that night with three friends, eventually running afoul of a gentlemen's club bouncer; and finally ending up with Zack and Adam, those good-looking guys from the supermarket, whose story is much too complex to tell here. Suffice it to say that they wind up at a very strange Christmas dinner where their hosts turn out to be much kinkier than they thought.

Although its young subjects are often aimless, "Go," which was written by John August, is anything but. Granted, the movie is studded with the conventions that show up in almost every youth comedy of the late 20th century: drugs, cars, sex, the de rigueur trip to Las Vegas. But between them, August and Liman make even these chestnuts look fresh, especially a brilliantly choreographed Ecstasy trip and a bit involving a telepathic cat.

They are helped mightily by this accomplished cast of young players, especially Polley, who manages to be appealing even at her grumpiest.

If its vision of youthful abandon is perhaps a bit too sanguine (Ronna and her peers outrun drug overdoses, beatings and car accidents that would kill anyone over 20), "Go" still continues that cheerfully heedless tradition with intelligence and dazzling visual flair.

'Go'

Starring Desmond Askew, William Fichtner, Katie Holmes, Jay Mohr, Sarah Polley, Scott Wolf

Directed by Doug Liman

Released by Columbia Pictures

Rated R (strong drug content, sexuality, language and some violence)

Running time: 100 minutes

Sun score: * * *

Pub Date: 4/09/99

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