Dressed Up, Nowhere To 'Go'

Desperate for cash on Christmas Eve, an 18-year-old supermarket checkout clerk (Sarah Polley) takes it upon herself to score 20 hits of ecstasy for a couple of cute actors (Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr). In Go, Doug Liman, the director of the hip "Swingers," shows us the comically twisted fallout of her disastrous drug deal. It all takes place in 24 hours, but we see this day from three separate angles. In the first part, we get the checkout girl's story. Then we follow Simon (Desmond Askew), the young Brit who was supposed to do the deal but instead ends up in Las Vegas, setting fire to a hotel room and fleeing an armed strip-club owner. Finally, we watch the day from the point of view of the two actors, whose involvement in the drug transaction puts them at the mercy of a very peculiar cop (William Fichtner) who blackmails them into having dinner with his wife, where he makes an unexpected proposal.

John August's trickily structured script owes an all too obvious debt to "Pulp Fiction," but Liman's film is more like kiddie Tarantino. Guns are fired and shovels raised with murderous intent, but no one ever gets seriously harmed. Like its naive protagonists, the movie flirts with danger, only to back off and announce "Just kidding!" As he showed in "Swingers," Liman has an ingratiating sensibility and an energetic style. "Go" is peppered with funny bits: kids talking themselves into a high on the cold medicine Polley passes off as ecstasy; Wolf and Mohr's bickering, showbiz relationship, and best of all Fichtner's insinuating lunacy as a drug cop with a screw loose.

Clever as the parts are, "Go" doesn't add up to much. It starts to go awry in the frenetic Vegas episode, when you realize that things happen because the screenplay wills them to happen, not from any internal logic. It's the whatever school of filmmaking. "Go" has its pleasures, but I didn't really believe a word of it.