‘White Boy Rick’ is the kind of movie that appears to be a lot better than it actually is; an effectively gritty visual coating, a decent capturing of the period (in this case, the 1980’s), and some firecracker performances.
The problem? It just doesn’t feel like we’re getting the whole story here – ’cause ‘White Boy Rock’ left me feeling that one of two things happened; the flick was either served up wildly out-of-place, or there was a lot of great stuff left on the editing room floor.
That said, it’s not terrible. And, if nothing else, director Yann Demange works darn hard to make sure his picture feels authentic.
‘White Boy Rick’ is the true story of Rick Wershe Jr., a teenage drug dealer-turned-FBI informant from Detroit. He’s played by newcomer Richie Merritt, who understandably (being his first film, after all) often has that deer-in-headlights look to him. But then, given the circumstance of the character he’s portraying, that sometimes works in his favor.
It can’t be easy in your rookie journey trading dialogue with Matthew McConaughey (who, surprise, surprise….is awfully good in this one), playing Rick’s weapons-dealing father. Even showing evident restraint (good move) and without his trademark drawl, McConaughey acts circles around poor Merritt – which shouldn’t come as a shocker, ’cause a sprawling crime epic to McConaughey is like an amusement park to a kid. Play time!
It’s just too bad these guys don’t have a better script OR game plan to work with. ‘White Boy Rick’ is one of the more indecisive kingpin-on-the-rise projects I’ve seen – it’s too abrupt in some scenes, then overextended in others. Given Wershe Jr.’s tale, you expect something that’s going to stick with you. But ‘White Boy Rick’, save for the odd shining moment or two, will likely be forgotten before the month is done.