White Boy Rick – He Grows on You

White Boy Rick

If you are hesitant to see this film because you think you might be unable to stand Rick’s streetwise accent for an entire movie, don’t worry, you get used to it. After meeting young Rick (Richie Merritt), you immediately are immersed by his environment and upbringing and understand Detroit is one of the few places this story just makes sense. Seduced by the grime, dusty car and the unusual, if unhealthy, father/son bond, you get hooked quickly, and the movie paces along pretty well after that. Driving back into the city Rick asks his dad why they still live here, implying the city has pretty much gone to the dumps, and his dad, Rick Sr. (Matthew McConaughey) replies, “a lion doesn’t leave the Serengeti.”  These characters, who you will need to remind yourself a few times, are real people, know themselves well and do not apologize for their surroundings or being who they are.

Other acting gems that could have been overlooked but instead served up talent were the federal agents, one played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, familiar and foreboding, and another Atlanta’s talented Brian Tyree Henry. Also, one of McConaughey’s Dazed and Confused alums, Rory Cochrane, leaves us wondering whether the pair caught up over coffee marveling at how surprised the world basically is that Matthew McConaughey is still impressing us this far into his career? We may have known he is talented for a while, check out Dallas Buyers Club for knock-you-over-the-head emotional resonance, but he really slips into Rick Sr. and brings some empathy for a real life man who might have been hard to find redeemable without this empathetic performance.

Rare is it that you get such an emotionally memorable performance depicting the sheer confusion and love that goes into parenting. Bonus, he pulls off this feat with a star defining mullet! McConaughey might steal the show a bit, but as Rick Jr. eclipses his father’s dealings, Merritt rises to show some chops and I’m interested in roles we might get to see him occupy in the future. The story itself being incredulous enough, I really rode along through the twists and turns with the movie as I did not know the ending. Just go see it. And enjoy the hairstyles!

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