Drugstore Cowboy: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Director Gus Van Sant has always had a way about expressing an emotion on film. Wheater it’s with Nicole Kidman as an up and coming TV anchorwoman in “To Die For”, the story of a boy genius as with Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting” or his first feature with Matt Dillon, Heather Graham and Kelly Lynch in “Drugstore Cowboy”. Drugstore Cowboy follows the lives of four friends, two couples actually, who make their so called living by robbing drug stores and hospitals. Granted, they are all addicted to drugs, so they don’t take money and they don’t use guns or unnecessary force. They’re drug addicts, they steal drugs. Bob (Matt Dillon) is their unofficial leader and his wife Diane have been partners in crime for more than twenty years. Drugstore Cowboy starts out showing how they do the robbery, how they all work together, and actually it’s quite impressive. Bob is the man who does all the “dirty work”, which is to say that he goes and actually takes the drugs, while the other members of their team create a diversion. Sure, they’ve been caught a few times, spent some time on the inside, but overall it’s a pretty good gig. So what is it that keeps them doing this? Even before the drugs are gone from the present score, Bob is always scheming how to get more; where to hit, what the security is like…it’s just about then that the police come busting down the door and they get busted! The police seem to be the main antagonist in this film, that is if you count out their drug habits. Forced out of town, the group all heads out west to, it would seem, start their new lives. It’s not long after that they’re back at their old tricks. Bob sees an open window, the wheels start turning and they have their biggest score to date. Now this all sounds all well and good, but what would there be without a little team dissent? Heather Graham (yes, Rollergirl) plays the youngest member of the team, Nadine. She gets the least of the cut of drugs and is not happy about it. Her boyfriend, Rick (James Le Gros) isn’t much support as he is basically in it for the drugs as well, there is little bonding between these two and it’s obvious that the relationship won’t last much longer. An accident happens (I won’t say what), which forces Bob to take a good look at his life. Does he want to keep on like this, does he want to keep running from the law, breaking into pharmacies and hospitals for his next score; or does he want to get his life on track (not back on track, just on track)? Drugstore Cowboy is a very low key film, that doesn’t mean it’s not well made. Van Sant does an excellent job of directing this movie, and I don’t think that he could do it this well if he tried today. He admits, in the documentary that he had a lot of “first time directing” jitters and that, in turn, let the actors have a bit more freedom with their roles. Drugstore Cowboy moves a bit slow in placed, but it’s a great movie that has been given the royal treatment on DVD. Check it out.

Video: How does it look?

The transfer is 10 years old, but Artisan has enhanced it for 16:9 TV’s. There are still some shots that show the grain, but a lot of that has to do with Gus Van Sant’s style of shooting. While it’s true that the picture could be a whole lot better, it could be a whole lot worse. Overall, a nice transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

The sound mix is Dolby Surround 2.0 and that’s about the size of it. I’d say that about 95% of the movie’s dialogue and effects come from the center channel, with the front left and right speakers being used occasionally, and the surrounds being used less than that. This doesn’t detract from the movie in any way, though. A nice effort, though I found myself thinking “what did he say” from time to time.

Supplements: What are the extras?

A full-length commentary by Director Gus Van Sant and lead actor Matt Dillon is not to be missed, it’s funny but at the same time sheds a lot of light on how and why the movie was shot the way it was. In addition to this, a 30 minute documentary which has some behind the scenes footage and interviews is a nice addition as well. Other than that, you get a weird ratio trailer (looks 16:9 all squished), cast and crew notes and some production notes as well. All in all, if this movie is one of your favorites, it has become a gem of a DVD. Worst case…give it rental and see a truly great movie.

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