HomeMovies1999 Movie-versaries: Go

1999 Movie-versaries: Go

1999 was a big year for movies. It was the year that The Matrix‘s slow-motion bullet influenced action movies for years to come. It was the year American Beauty won Best Picture at the Academy Awards and Oscar fans have been arguing about it ever since. It was the year Pokémon jumped from Gameboys and TV to the big screen. And worst of all, it was the year that disappointed a generation of Star Wars fans with the release of The Phantom Menace.

To celebrate that landmark year in film’s 20th Anniversary, The Pop Break continues its year-long retrospective of 1999’s most influential (at least to us) films with staff writer Michael Vacchiano reflecting on Go.

When it comes to movies released in the ‘90s, in particular the latter half of the decade, there were two sub-genres that seemed to emerge. Many filmmakers tried to emulate indie breakout Quentin Tarantino with non-linear storytelling and hilarious, cool dialogue, but there was also a huge resurgence of teen/high school flicks that tried to capture the nostalgia of or pay homage to John Hughes. But when Go was released in this memorable year of cinema, it somehow managed to combine both…and to great effect, I might add.

Director Doug Liman, who had come onto the scene a few years prior with his debut hit, Swingers, presented us with something that was completely new and fresh. When giving a short description of Go to those who haven’t seen this underrated gem, I always say the following: “Throw Pulp Fiction and Fast Times at Ridgemont High in a blender and hit puree.” The result is a hilarious and fast-paced concoction that was, at the time, like nothing you’d ever tasted before.

Go features a trio of overlapping and interconnected stories that revolve around a group of young adults at Christmastime. Ronna (Sarah Polley) is an L.A. supermarket check-out girl who’s behind on her rent. Desperate for some quick cash, she decides to sell hits of ecstasy to some underground party-goers to avoid being put out on the street. Meanwhile, her co-worker Simon (Desmond Askew) takes off for a wild trip to Vegas with this buddies, and ends up having waaayyyy more fun and excitement than he bargained for. Finally, gay couple and soap actors Zack (Jay Mohr) and Adam (Scott Wolf) must work undercover with a creepy cop and endure an awkward holiday dinner with his flirtatious wife. Believe it or not, the whole thing weaves together seamlessly in the end for an incredible and wild night of laughs and thrills.

The awesome cast was rounded out by some of the hottest young actors at that time including Katie Holmes, Taye Diggs, Breckin Meyer, and Timothy Olyphant. Veteran character actors like William Fichtner, Jane Krakowski and J.E. Freeman also lent their great talents to this youth-oriented, energy-charged affair. And while the plot is not slow by any means, the parties involved still take their time to engage in talk of the Tarantino variety. The characters are quick to drop references to pop culture staples such as “Let’s Make a Deal” host Monty Hall and Hughes’s classic film The Breakfast Club. A personal favorite involves a menacing drug dealer riffing on why he hates the Family Circus comic strip while reading the funny pages. There’s even a sex discussion on tantric orgasms incorporating Obi-wan Kenobi from the Star Wars canon.

The acting ensemble had varying levels of success both before and after Go was released. Wolf (Party of Five), Holmes (Dawson’s Creek), and Krakowski (Ally McBeal) were already starring in successful TV shows, and have done plenty of other work on both the small and big screen. Newark native Diggs has done lots of film and stage work, including being part of the original cast of the Broadway musical smash, Rent. Olyphant would later go on to star in such acclaimed series as Deadwood, Justified, and The Santa Clarita Diet. Arguably, and ironically, the most successful cast member is a young Melissa McCarthy, who makes her film debut in a very small cameo appearance. She’d later go on to appear in TV’s Gilmore Girls, break out in Bridesmaids, and then become, well, a bonafide megastar.

Due to 1999 being such an incredible year for movies, Go is often a forgotten and overshadowed film, lost in the discussion. But yours truly remembers his 15-year-old self, a blossoming cinephile, having a great time checking it out at the local theater. I wouldn’t deem it as an untouchable classic, but it’s still a hip and funny film that’s as frenzied as the Mary Xmas-titled rave that the characters stop to party at. If you’ve never seen it and have the time to do so, then stop what you’re doing…and Go.



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