White Boy Rick ★★

I honestly don't know why White Boy Rick centers around Rick Wershe Jr. (Richie Merritt) when the far more interesting story is the one about Rick Wershe Sr. (Matthew McConaughey). Maybe it's because Merritt doesn't do anything interesting with the role (not that the movie gives him anything interesting to do with it). Or maybe it's because McConaughey is the only person in the movie doing anything worth a damn. But the movie itself doesn't know what story it wants to tell with someone who, quite frankly, is not a very compelling subject.

White Boy Rick doesn't concern itself with setting up characters or their relationships with Rick Jr. Which makes it nigh impossible to keep track of different players in the drug game, much less form any emotional connection to anyone involved. The movie's few spurts of violence lack any sort of subtlety or finesse, making them stick out so painfully awkwardly. Not only that, the movie does such a poor job telling its story that when violence breaks out, there were a couple instances where I couldn't track how the people involved factored into the plot. It was extremely frustrating. In addition to that, the movie strangely brushes past some important plot elements or otherwise doesn't spend enough time with others, making for a needlessly disjointed viewing experience.

But the movie is a drama first and foremost and not dependent on violence. Unfortunately, the drama really isn't that well done. It all comes down to poor storytelling. It's hard to find sympathy with Rick Jr. despite the fact that he's just a naive kid. The movie does a lazy job setting up his bond with his junkie sister (Bel Powley), making her really only pop up when Rick's story needs her to pop up. To the movie's credit, the bond among the family as a whole strengthens quite a bit later on. It's maybe White Boy Rick's strongest attribute but it really only succeeded in making me wish THAT was the movie I was watching from the start.

White Boy Rick shoehorns in some statements about the criminal justice system and its history of harsh penalties for nonviolent criminals. But it doesn't necessarily connect with the rest of the movie in any real meaningful way for me, despite trying real hard. In the end, I just didn't find the subject of Rick Wershe Jr. that interesting as a character and I really think that's due to the fact that this movie told his story so poorly and without much connective tissue.

McConaughey is the standout performer in an otherwise totally forgettable and bland movie.

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