TAGS doug liman, go
CATEGORIES Columns, Cinematical
Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf in 'Go'

Before director Doug Liman became a mainstream Hollywood name via 'The Bourne Identity,' action/rom-com hybrid 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' (bequeathing us moviedom's most fussed-over couple in the process), and recent marriage-politics drama 'Fair Game,' he helmed the nifty comedy/crime flick 'Go.' His third feature after the straight-to-video 'Getting In' and the funny, groovy 'Swingers' -- starring then then-unknowns Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn -- 'Go' was and remains a delightfully raw, unpredictable and entertaining movie.

Released in 1999, 'Go' came out a few years after 'Pulp Fiction' and was undoubtedly influenced by the latter's adrenaline-boosting, multi-plot narrative. But Liman's movie, based on John August's excellent screenplay, has an edgy humor and wild vitality all its own, in addition to atypical characters and performances from a mostly young, clearly inspired cast. With 'Take Me Home Tonight,' a movie that unfolds over the course of one night, opening this Friday, we can't help but think back to 'Go,' a classic of the genre.

'go' poster Set mainly in L.A., 'Go' is divided into three intertwining (or colliding) segments, each representing a particular character's point of view. What kicks off the whole shebang is the impending eviction of supermarket clerk Ronna (a preternaturally cool Sarah Polley), who owes back rent.

After taking over a shift from fellow clerk Simon (Desmond Askew), so that he can go to Vegas with some buddies (Segment 2), she's approached by TV actors Adam (Scott Wolf) and Zack (Jay Mohr), who hope to score some ecstasy for a Christmas-themed warehouse rave (yes, this is the '90s). Ronna, needing money, agrees to help out and visits Simon's dealer Todd, who's crude and menacing, yet (because he's played by Timothy Olyphant) also crazy sexy. Lacking enough cash for the drugs, she leaves her level-headed friend Claire (Katie Holmes, playing against 'Dawson's Creek' type) as collateral.

That's the setup, which soon leads to myriad screw-ups, adventures and brushes with death.

Katie Holmes and Sarah Polley in 'Go'

Segment 3 is devoted to Adam and Zack, who, like the refreshingly badass Ronna, are not your stock young-adult comedy characters -- especially back in 1999 -- mainly because they're a gay couple. (They're also funny and sympathetic.) SPOILER ALERT AHEAD: When Ronna arrives with their drugs, Adam and Zack are accompanied by a suspicious older guy who's actually undercover narcotics agent Burke (William Fichtner). Busted for possession, Zack has set up the sting in exchange for freedom, but feeling guilty, he quietly warns Ronna away.

The oddly unnerving Burke then invites Adam and Zack to dinner with his wife (Jane Krakowski), ostensibly unaware that they're gay; earlier he interrogated Zack about his "girlfriend." Feeling pressured, they unhappily accept -- aside from Burke's unsettling questions, Adam and Zack are having fidelity issues -- and the surreal, uncomfortable scene that follows is one of the movie's most memorable (and not just for the nudity):


Fichtner is tremendous as a creepy, trying-to-be-cool cop, almost bursting with enthusiasm about his ridiculous proposition. (Unfortunately missing from this clip is Mrs. Burke giving Adam a passionate pre-dinner kiss.) Mohr and Wolf play the table scene equally well, exchanging a series of looks ranging from panic to confusion to subtle accusation. Though just one of the film's many terrific scenes, it's the most bizarrely unpredictable.

Along with several of the other characters, Adam and Zack eventually wind up at the rave, where they (literally) run into Ronna, completely altering her night and one of the movie's trajectories. After a few more twists, this breathless joyride of a movie reaches its completely satisfying conclusion.