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Alpha Dog Review Critics


Dave White Profile

… goofy, hip-hop-soundtrack-addled exploitation … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Cassavetes throws in everything he can recycle to grab a core-demo viewer -- slutty teens making out, blaring rock music, guns, split screens.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Don't be fooled by the presence of some pretty-boy actors: Alpha Dog is a gritty, gut-wrenching and disturbing film.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Alpha Dog isn't a happy movie, but it's dramatically solid and the impressions it leaves will not be easily shaken.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    Around the midpoint Alpha Dog becomes less sociological and more personal, developing a real sense of suspense.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Alpha Dog reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

not for kids

Timberlake stars in fact-based drug drama.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is a focuses on older teens and twentysomethings who do and deal drugs (some encouraged by parents who also smoke pot), have sex, drink, smoke, lie, and cheat. There is a lot of violence, including shootings, fights, bloody injuries, a nasty broken arm (it cracks loudly), kicks, a boy knocking girls to the ground, a "crew" destroying an enemy's home, and a murder in which the duct-taped victim tearfully begs to be spared. Sex scenes (in bed and in a pool) show naked bottoms and breasts (one father invites his son to join him and the two women he's with). Language includes hundreds of "f--k"s, plus other familiar obscenities and racist, sexist, and homophobic terms.

  • Families can talk about the idea of bad parenting as a theme of the movie. How are the parents in the movie ineffective? How does the younger characters' behavior (violence, sex, drug use) reflect what they see on television and in their own homes? Do they have any other options? Do those options change after the kidnapping? How would you describe the characters' goals? How do the girls and young women respond differently (compare, for instance, Julie and Susan)? Do you think starring in a movie like this will affect Justin Timberlake's reputation/popularity? Why do you think he decided to take the part?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Kids and young people are careless, mean-spirited, and selfish, as well as drug addicts; adults remain self-absorbed, remote, and angry, serving as poor role models; the story is inspired by the real-life kidnapping and murder of one addict's 15-year-old brother and the apathy of more than 30 witnesses.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: Repeated graphic violence; graphic shooting in rap music videos (blood spurts from victims' chests); fights involve breaking glass table/windows, bloody injuries, broken arm, kicks to crotches, a boy punching out girls; a "crew" breaks into "enemy"'s home and destroys furniture, TV, etc. (one boy defecates on a rug); murder victim-to-be is shown begging for his life and is then shot anyway (blood all over ground); mother discusses three suicide attempts.

  • sex false5

    Sex: Sexual slang ("you chasin' tail?", "faggot," "p--sy"); frequent references to sex acts ("suck c--k," "dildo up the ass"); several sex acts (in bed, threesome kissing in pool); a girl's tatoo features naked breasts; sex scenes in the pool and in bed show naked breasts and bottoms; man entwined on sofa with two women in underwear; mother appears at door in sheet, telling her daughter to leave her alone so "I can screw your father."

  • language false5

    Language: Relentless language, including "f--k" (about 300 uses, several with "mother"); "s--t" (20), multiple uses of "faggot," "hell," "c--ksuckers," "d---wad," and "bastard," plus two uses each of "spook" (in reference to blacks/slaves) and the "N" word; one use of "c--t."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Beer logos visible at convenience store; Members Only jacket; Outbacks Steakhouse, Scarface poster in bedroom.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false5

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Frequent drinking (mostly beer) by young adults, as well as 15-year-old boy; bongs visible and in use; several scenes chow characters drunk and behaving badly (sexual aggression, passing out); frequent pot-smoking and preparation (one character's father grows marijuana in his garden alongside organic vegetables); mother tells her daughter, "I'm ex-ing" cigarette smoking in nearly every scene (when 15-year-old Jake demurs, Frankie encourages him, "It's good for you"); central characters also deal drugs; Jake appears high (on some form of speed/crack) in several scenes.