I’ve been familiar with Go’s poster since I scoured the shelves of Blockbuster back in ’99. My mind assumed it was an edgier Can’t Hardly Wait with tons of ecstasy. There is indeed a fair amount of drug use but I didn’t expect the dark levels it would reach and the amount of humor it would be balanced with. Heavily influenced by Pulp Fiction the plot jumps in time and point of view following four individuals on a Christmas Eve filled with sex, lies and raves.
Breaking it down the three main plots, Ronna was the strongest but also astonishingly depressing. Having her story line first, being the most bleak as she’s about to get evicted, is set up for a drug bust and is involved in a hit and run, really throws you into a dark tone that can only get better. It really readjusted my expectations of this movie’s poster. When we’re first introduced to the down on their luck coworkers at a run down grocery store, I thought it was moving into Clerks territory as they play games naming dead celebrities to pass the time but once drug dealing gets thrown into the mix, shit goes down fast. Sarah Polley as Ronna and Timothy Olyphant as Todd (the best looking drug dealer in LA) are the highlights of the ensemble especially since I didn’t know Olyphant could pull off creepy so well. Polley is fantastic even though I don’t buy her as a teenager. I didn’t know she and her friends were supposed to be 17 until subsequent research after the fact but her unconvincing age doesn’t hurt the film. By the time her segment ends with such a dour cliff hanger, I was quite strapped in for what the movie would deliver next.
Following is Simon (Desmond Askew), a British douchbeag who takes a trip to Vegas with his three American mates who get into some rough situations due to his stupidity. It made me like Ronna even more because her predicaments were mostly out of her control and she did her best to resolve them within her desperation. At every turn, Simon does the opposite of he should, almost intentionally getting into trouble. His friend Marcus (Taye Diggs) gets caught up in his antics which lead to some unexpected instances of racism. I didn’t foresee Marcus having to call out so much racist bullshit from his wigger friend Tiny (Breckin Meyers) or the patrons of the casino who assume he’s a bathroom attendant or valet. I give leeway Marcus for stealing the car but Simon touching the strippers and shooting the bouncer deserves all the wrath that befalls him.
The Adam (Scott Wolf) and Zack (Jay Mohr) segment was the most ridiculous to me. Partially because I find it hard to believe the police force would use B list actors for drug busts or that acting officer Burke (William Fitchner) would have this elaborate scheme to try to get these guys to sell his products and most of all that Adam and Zack are a couple. It delves weirder and weirder with the unexplained sexual advances from Burke and his wife (played by Jane Krakowski). It’s set up to seem like they want a four some but then is faked out by the sales pitch which makes the inappropriate advances more baffling. I also thought it was some offhanded 90’s gay joke that they were a couple and until halfway through their adventure when they talk about sleeping with some other guy. Their plot also seems unresolved since maybe their hit and run was recorded by the cops or maybe not and it doesn’t matter. They just exit into the morning.
Even with the plot holes, the film moves swiftly with such interesting characters that it’s easy to let those things slide in the moment. Every story is constantly side lined but that’s life and it’s rounding out these characters, usually for the worst. No one is without sin and few experience repercussions. I’m ok with that because life’s never fair and in the end Ronna and her friends are back at their terrible job waiting for the next holiday to come around. It’s a high energy film with great ancillary characters (Katie Holmes isn’t the best actress but is delightful in short bursts). This movie could only be made in 1999 when ecstasy was popular enough to be a central plot device but Go genuinely well made and manages its dark and comic moments in a way other films fail. I’m looking at you Very Bad Things.