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Rx (2005)

Director: Ariel Vromen
Starring: Eric Balfour, Colin Hanks, Lauren German
Released by Universal Studios

If you've paid any attention to movies over, say, the last 30 years or so, you probably know that you would have to be nuts to smuggle drugs across any countries border. That is exactly what Andrew (Eric Balfour) attempts to do in Rx, a melodramatic road movie from Israel-born director Ariel Vromen.

Andrew and his best friend, good natured party animal Jonny (Colin Hanks), plan to take a trip to Mexico to score some prescription drugs. Jonny wants the drugs for fun, while Andrew wants them for profit. After Jonny spills the beans about their trip to Andrew's wealthy girlfriend Melissa (Lauren German), Andrew reluctantly invites her along for the ride. Before you can say MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, the situation turns sour. Andrew must figure out a way to get out of danger, and to find a way home.

If it were not for the solid performances from the films leads, Rx would fall completely apart. The character of Andrew is hard to sympathize with. Not only is he somewhat deceitful with his best friend and his girlfriend, he doesn't seem to have a great deal of common sense. From the beginning of the film, Andrew makes one incredibly dumb decision after another, motivated by some vague student loan and family issues. Anyhow, if Balfour didn't have such a likeable screen presence, you would probably despise the character of Andrew, a not-so-bright person who deliberately puts his friends in danger. Hanks and German are fine in their roles, as the people who would do anything for Andrew, whether he deserves it or not.

Andrew is not the only poorly drawn character in the film; the pair of flamboyantly gay German drug dealers are pretty hard to take. Keeping in line with Hollywood's need to depict all Germans as either sexual deviants, Nazis, or buffoons, the screenwriters decided to cover all three bases. At first, the duo are presented as comical foreigners who prance around in short shorts and make passes at Andrew; later on they are transformed into snarling thugs hellbent on making mincemeat of the film's not-so-bright hero. That's one hell of an arc, and one they don't make successfully. One more minor quibble is that Andrew's grasp of the Spanish language seems to come and go. At times he speaks fluently, at other times he is incapable of comprehending even 9th grade level Spanish. Not a big problem, but a problem all the same.

In spite of the ill-conceived characters and predictable plot, I enjoyed Rx. The credit belongs entirely to the three lead actors, whose performances manage to keep the film from becoming your average, run-of-the-mill drug/road movie. Worth watching for a little mindless entertainment, not for creative smuggling solutions.

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