Perhaps the movie looked better than it was. Maybe the book was better than the film. It could be that there was just something missing.
All told, I wanted to like this film, a lot. All of the pieces are there for a good movie: compelling story line, sympathetic characters, interesting twists. For some reason, however, I was left feeling like something was missing. I just wanted more and I didn't get it.
The movie is not a feel good movie or a preachy movie (although it tries to do so with its drug message), but it does have some great things going for it. The music was excellent, Robert Downey Jr. is very good, and some of the cinematography (especially the last few minutes of the film) was inspired.
Still, you can't overlook some of the problems. The acting is simply uneven. Andrew McCarthy looks as though he is interviewing for a stuffy banking position. The relationship between Julian and his father is never really played out. Rip's henchman looks like a California surfer with an attitude problem, not a bouncer type that is out to do no good. The movie all but says that if you are 18, white, and live in Beverly Hills, your main entertainment venue is snorting cocaine.
For me, this film was truly a love/hate relationship. I simply wanted more to love and less to hate.