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Listeria / Don’t You Forget About Me: The Top Ten Reasons Go is So Underrated

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 11, 2007

“Just so we’re clear, you stole a car, shot a bouncer, and had sex with two women?

Go was one of the last movies I fought with my parents about letting me see back when it came out in 1999, and probably one of the bigger cinematic bones of contention I had with them. Caught in between my days of strictly commercial film viewing and my period of irrepressible film snobbery, Go was that rarest of creatures–the critically-acclaimed (or, at least, critically accepted, but I do remember my paper giving it 3 1/2 stars out of four) flick that also held the promise of decent amounts of car chases and nudity. Luckily, at the time, I found a loophole in my parents’ allowance that if I was with my friends when they were all watching a movie I wasn’t supposed to see, I didn’t have to be the only one preventing them from doing so, which I totally exploited to mean “it’s OK to rent whatever you want as long as you’re with your friends when you do it.” Heh.

I loved Go then, and watching it again for the first time almost a decade later, I still love it. It’s a movie very, very much of its time–more than any movie I can remember, it just feels like the late-90s–but it’s one that’s still held up remarkably well. Of all the “crazy intertwining action-filled plots hinging on bizarre coincidences and lots of pop culture references” movies to come out in the wake of Pulp Fiction, I’d say it’s the one that best manages to maintain its own identity, and it’s a damn shame that no one seems to care about this movie anymore.

So, ten reasons why maybe you should:

10. The Threesome Scene. Not quite as hot or explicit as I was hoping at the time, but probably one of the funniest sex scenes of recent years. British guy Simon, on a trip to Vegas with his friends, ends up smoking pot with a couple of bridesmaids from a nearby wedding, almost setting the room on fire when the tissues one of the girls stuffs in her nose to keep the smoke in nearly catches fire. The near-danger of the fire incites the three-way, but they don’t quite put it out entirely, and eventually the whole room goes in flames, forcing the three to flee naked for the elevator. The best part is how Simon initially dismisses the fire, despite it having spread to half the room, as a sort of common, “wow, things are really starting to get hot!” effect of good sex, before the fire alarm goes off and sort of snaps him into reality. Still funnier, though: Annette Benning getting nailed by Peter Gallagher in American Beauty. “FUCK ME, YOUR MAJESTY!”

9. Sookie’s Cameo As the Make-Up Guy’s Roommate. The movie’s third story, with Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr as closeted TV actors in a secret relationship with each other, is probably the weakest of the three, and the whole thing with cop William Fichtner and his wife trying to sell them on some Amway-esque retail company is just sort of weird. But the story at least has some humor in Mohr & Wolf finding out that they’ve been cheating on each other with the same dude, Jimmy, the make-up guy on their set. This is confirmed by Jimmy’s roommate, played by, of all people, Gilmore Girls‘ Melissa McCarthy, who can’t stop giggling when the two show up looking for him. “You know you guys once missed each other by like, three minutes?” she tells them.

8. The Chase Scenes. And there are a bunch, mostly in Simon’s Vegas story, but with at least one decent foot chase in Ronna’s (Sarah Polley) as well. Nothing too extraordinary, but good pursuits accompanied by good hi-octane music and the verve for action director Doug Limon would later bring to the first Bourne movie.

7. The Title. Simple, effective, and immediately energizing. Besides, nothing beats a good title reference in a movie’s dialogue, and with a title like Go, the flick packs in at least a dozen of ’em, and you probably wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t listening for it. Supposedly it’s also a drug reference as well, making it about as brilliant a title as Canadian rapper Snow’s Twelve Inches of Snow album (see if you can spot all three puns!)

6. Timothy Olyphant. He may have kicked off his career of playing teeth-clenched lowlifes as one of the villains of Scream 2, but his role as Todd, the scummy drug dealer in Go would make him one of the coolest That Guys of the last decade, before Deadwood would make him a leading man in earnest. Ripping on Family Circus, making creepy Breakfast Club jokes, saying lines like “I didn’t know we’d become such good friends, because if we had, you’d know that I give head before I give favors and I don’t even give my best friends head so your chances of getting a favor are pretty fucking slim.” Awesome guy.

5. The Poster.

I dunno, I always found it exciting for some reason. Especially that tagline.

4. The Rave. Growing up in the late-90s, practically a decade after the rave peaked in the UK as a legitimate social or musical movement, raves just mostly seemed like an excuse for American teenagers to take a lot of drugs, wear a lot of bright clothes and act like total idiots for a night. The rave scenes in Go–probably the first mainstream American movie to prominently feature one–confirmed all my brigest hopes (communal vibe, thrilling atmosphere, cool flashing lights) and worst fears (asshole drug dealers, terrible music) about what raves were actually like, as well as making me realize that I would never be either cool or lame enough to attend one. Oh well.

3. Katie Holmes. Watching this back-to-back with Magonlia a few nights ago was somewhat depressing. It’s almost hard to remember a time when I didn’t view Katie Holmes & Tom Cruise as totally insane fucks, incapable of genuine human emotion or relatability. At the time of Go, though, Katie Holmes was about the cutest, most innocent-seeming creature in US popular entertainment, and her scenes in the movie as Claire, Ronna’s best friend and temporary drug collateral, while frustratingly devoid of actual sex or nudity (The Gift was still a few years away at this point) were still fairly heart-tugging. Holds up better than Disturbing Behavior, at least.

2. The Soundtrack. Go is what partying like it’s 1999 would actually sound like. Filled with trashy, third-tier big beat and trip-hop groups (Lionrock, BT, Esthero) and other quintessentially 90s artifacts like Eagle-Eye Cherry, Natalie Imbruglia, and Philip Steir’s 90s so-cal update of Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” the soundtrack really couldn’t possibly be more of its time and place. And it even includes two legitimate gem singles, No Doubt’s super-underrated non-album “New” and LEN’s bubblegum classic “Steal My Sunshine”.

1. The Last Line. The best part of Go isn’t any of the individual stories, but the way they all come together at the end. Then as Ronna and Claire return to work the next day after a Christmas night of bad drug deals, attempted murder and stairwell sex, they realize they forgot to retrieve Mannie–their X-dropping friend that Ronna had to hide at the rave under a piece of scrap metal when his dry-heaving was slowing down her escape from the pissed-off Todd. They go back to the now-empty rave site and discover aqhighly groggy Mannie in the exact same place Ronna left him. Finding Ronna’s car and driving back to work, Mannie gets the film’s should’ve-been-classic closing line–“So…what are we doing for New Years?”

Still holding out for a sequel.

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5 Responses to “Listeria / Don’t You Forget About Me: The Top Ten Reasons Go is So Underrated”

  1. […] Zac Efron Contact the Webmaster Link to Article katie holmes Listeria / Dont You Forget About Me: The Top Ten Reasons Go is So Underrated » Posted at Intensities in Ten Suburbs on Saturday, August 11, 2007 Listeria / Dont You Forget About Me: The Top Ten Reasons Go is So Underrated August 11th, 2007 by Andrew Unterberger Just so were clear, you stole a car, shot a bouncer, and had sex with two women? Go was one of the last movies I fought with my parents about letting me see back when it came out in 1999, View Original Article » […]

  2. DanWeiss said

    I really need to see this movie. I remember at the time I was like oh shit, good reviews, and all my friends who’d seen it were like no. I forgot about it until you posted this, which reignited my need to know what a “Pulp Fiction for kids” is like.

    And “New” is the best thing Gwen Stefani’s ever done (only “Bubble Pop Electric” comes close), and I thought I was the only one who even noticed its existence.

  3. Mitchell Stirling said

    Underrated flick, slightly prefer Human Traffic though myself.

  4. Joe said

    That font used in the poster usually means that you’re about to watch a low-budget movie about hackers or extreme sports.

  5. Garret said

    God, I love this fucking movie. Seriously. And one of the major factors that determines its “90s-ness” is definitely the presence of Jay Mohr. Seriously, dude was in pretty much every shitty movie during the late 90s. “Mafia,” “Small Soldiers,” “200 Cigarettes,” “Paulie”… christ, I assume that this is a better movie than “200 Cigarettes.” I remember a while back during the SOMB 90s poll prep time when I watched “Short Cuts,” “Go,” “Pulp Fiction,” and “Happiness” all in the course of maybe two and a half weeks or so. It was like, “Fuck, did every 90s movie have a massive ensemble cast whose characters all were presented through “intertwining stories”? Best decade for film ever.

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