White Boy Rick Review

White Boy Rick Theatrical Poster

The 80s were a crazy time in American history. A decade full of excess, drugs, and sex. In the city of Detroit, drugs and guns reign supreme. During this time, an unlikely drug kingpin rose to prominence in the city of Detroit. That man is Rick Wershe Jr, a kid who became an FBI informant and then a drug kingpin. It’s an intriguing tale that is being told in the film, White Boy Rick. But is White Boy Rick able to effectively capture Rick’s unbelievable story?

Yes, it does. Behind the stellar performances by Matthew McConaughey and Richie Merritt, White Boy Rick is an intriguing yet tragic film about the life of the titular character.

White Boy Rick follows the true story of Rick Wershe Jr., a teenager living in Detroit during the 1980s. During the course of a few years, Rick goes from a street hustler to an FBI informant to a drug kingpin.

White Boy Rick - Richie Merritt & Matthew McConaughey

The biggest takeaway from White Boy Rick is that it’s an anti-American dream film. The tale of Richard Wershe Jr is such a tragic one that you’ll end up feeling so bad for him once the credits roll. White Boy Rick does an impeccable job getting the audience to love these characters. In a way, they’re very reminiscent of the Gallagher family on Showtime’s “Shameless.” They’re a dysfunctional mess but at least they’re all likable characters. Not to mention, this family loves each other, for better or worse.

That’s why White Boy Rick works as a tragedy. You want these characters to succeed even though they’re clearly breaking the law. Also, the screenwriters do a great job in humanizing these characters. They’re not saints nor are they perfect. But their hustle and perseverance to survive in the crime-ridden city of Detroit are what humanizes them.

Yet the biggest surprise is how funny the film is. The titular character is a sarcastic kid who tells it like it is. So when he opens his mouth, something funny is likely to come out. As a matter of fact, the same can be said about the family dynamic too. After all, he must get that personality from somewhere.

Unfortunately, White Boy Rick does have its issues. First of all, the film is a little long. The film introduces a bunch of characters that flesh out Rick Jr’s life. Unfortunately, a lot of these characters share a hefty amount of screen time which extends the run time of the film. The problem lies with the fact that each character has a significant influence on Rick. Therefore, it’s a delicate balance that the filmmakers couldn’t figure out.

White Boy Rick - Rory Cochrane, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Richie Merritt, & Matthew McConaughey

At least they put together a fantastic cast to alleviate these issues. The film may be long but the amazing performances by the cast make up for it. Matthew McConaughey is absolutely charismatic as Richard Wershe Sr. He gives a multi-faceted performance that encompasses a wide array of emotions.

The same can be said for Ritchie Merritt who nails the role of Rick Wershe Jr. Even though it might be due to him playing himself, Merritt still acts his tail off in the role. Yet, because this is his first role ever, he quite has the ability to show emotions well. Nevertheless, his performance provides the film with a lot of heart and laughs.

Bel Powley rounds out the main core of the Wershe family. Although she doesn’t have the same impact as McConaughey and Merritt, she’s still is able to provide the film with a lot of its drama. Due to her story arc, she also gives a heartbreaking performance too.

Overall, White Boy Rick is an intriguing yet heartbreaking film about the life of Rick Wershe Jr. Although there are a lot of films that depict the American dream, White Boy Rick shows you the other side of the coin. It shows you what happens when the system and society turn its back on you. At the very least, it’s a cautionary tale that everyone needs to see.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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