Entertainment » Movies

White Boy Rick

by Derek Deskins
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Jan 7, 2019
White Boy Rick

When a film touts its "based on a true story" credentials so blatantly, it makes me cringe. Not to say that if a movie finds its basis in reality that it is automatically lesser, only that when this flag is flown so prominently it usually hints to other deficiencies. A movie should work on its own, with or without a factual base, and when the movie insists that you know that it's telling you a "true story," it is as if it is already asking for forgiveness. "I know that this seems silly and inconsequential," the movie pleads, "but, you know, it actually happened, so it must be important." Sometimes, as it is in the case of "White Boy Rick," it just kind of isn't.

Richard Wershe Sr. is struggling to raise his teenagers in 1980s Detroit. To make ends meet, he hustles guns to nefarious characters. But soon the FBI gets smart to Richard's game, and when he can't come up with anything to satisfy the FBI's needs they turn to his young son, Rick. The FBI enlists Rick as an undercover informant for the local drug scene. But when Rick gets a taste for how he can live like a drug dealer, it drives him even further into Detroit's criminal underbelly.

There aren't that many characters in "White Boy Rick," yet I constantly found myself struggling to remember who were the players to care about. The problem is that in an effort to recount all of the pertinent events in this "true story," any semblance of character development is tossed out of the window. This could be forgiven if it only occurred with the secondary and tertiary characters, but this is a problem that extends even to the titular Rick. We don't come to know Rick, even though he is to be the film's emotional center, which is just as much the fault of Richie Merritt's serviceable if unexceptional performance, as the underwritten script from Andy Weiss, and Logan and Noah Miller. The lack of fully drawn characters leaves the audience at a distance, looking in from afar with little care for what happens to these strangers.

The Blu-ray release of "White Boy Rick" is hopelessly generic. It throws your standard set of deleted scenes and electronic press kit special features that struggle to fill five minutes apiece. The features are lazy and have a perfunctory air about them that nearly says to the viewer, "Why are you even watching this?" The only spot of potential is a trivia track that allows you to watch this film as if it is a VH1 Pop-Up Video. It's an interesting concept that is unsurprisingly populated with surface level "trivia" that rapidly becomes tiresome (a director commentary would have been a welcomed improvement). "White Boy Rick" is bland and shallow, boasting its "based on a true story" credentials in hopes that it will give it a reason to exist. It doesn't and the Blu-ray release is just as forgettable.

"White Boy Rick"
Blu-ray + Digital HD

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