This could have been a great movie. The story is interesting: we have Emile Hirsch as Johnny Truelove, a low-life drug dealer who likes to feel like his is the boss of everybody; Justin Timberlake as Frankie Ballenbacher and Shawn Hatosy as Elvis Schmidt, both of which gravitate around Truelove; and Ben Foster (the hottie from X-Men 3, only he is not hot at all in Alpha Dog) as Jake Mazursky, a small-time crook/addict who messes up with Truelove. As payback, Truelove kidnaps his brother Zack Mazusky (played by Anton Yelchin). The brother is kept in captivity, like this:
Life in captivity is not looking so bad for Zack, but things take a dark turn when Truelove feels threatened with jail time. I like this type of story, involving middle to upper class teenagers in California -- nothing new, but interesting; Sharon Stone rocks as Zack's mom, a desperate housewife.
Ben and Anton did pretty well too. Justin needs a little more work, but I think he has screen potential. Maybe he'll be better in Black Snake Moan. Anyway, other than the acting I singled out, the execution of the movie is mediocre at best, and so is the movie.
On the gay content front the movie is bad. There are so many homophobic epithets: "faggots," charged "queers" etc., uttered by everybody (from good guys to bad guys). I think the worst scene is the one in which Justin's character teases Shawn's character about him being gay and in love with Truelove, it's pretty bad. Another bad instance of homophobia comes when Zack, the kidnapped boy, is in the bathroom with a bunch of people and when a guy tries to walk in, he yells something like: "no fucking queers in here."
All bad, except maybe for two sort of (just sort of) neutral scenes: one time, Zack the victim, says that he likes his mom (played by Sharon Stone) and that he knows that that was "kinda gay;" another time, when Truelove and Justin's character are looking for a place to hide Zack, they go to this house full of people and one of those people is called "Gay Lumpy." I thought he was gay, but that might have been just his name...Lumpy the "gay" was treated nicely by the owner of the house, a neutral light.
I want it to be clear that I don't think that the movie does not reflect reality, that amount of homophobia might very well be the reality in that setting of teenage thugs and in many other settings, but the 'reality' should not prevent us from calling on the homophobia. Shame on writer/director Nick Cassavetes.