Now that the teen movie has been officially (and officiously) revived, Swingers director Doug Liman has returned with Go, a slick and calculated dark comedy that taps into the zeitgeist so shrewdly and thoroughly, it all but hurls itself into a time capsule. A smug, market-tested catalog of youth-culture trends, attitudes, and fantasies, Go peppers its Ecstasy-fueled L.A. raves and all-night Vegas benders with hair-trigger stabs of violence, heavy referential winking, and a steady diet of would-be alt-radio hits. Following a group of disgruntled young supermarket clerks, the film splinters, Pulp Fiction-style, into three interlocking storylines. In the first, The Sweet Hereafter's Sarah Polley recruits fellow cashier Katie Holmes (TV's Dawson's Creek) in a scheme to pass off allergy medicine and Dexitrim as Ecstasy hits. ("Be sure to take a lot of pot with it," she advises.) Liman returns to the Vegas strip of Swingers for the second, but with much uglier results, as a wired Desmond Askew and his buddies turn a wild night of partying into an unwelcome sequel to Very Bad Things. The last and most successful story features Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr as a pair of TV cops who unwittingly involve themselves in a real-life drug sting. While far more ambitious, skillful, and vivid than the current rash of teen comedies, Go is just as hollow at its center. For all the visceral impact of Liman's direction, and for all the clever turns in John August's ingeniously structured script, the film is escapism of the worst sort, a manipulative exercise in style that preys on the passivity of its characters and its audience. In the end, Go offers little more than the sour, impermanent rush of a pixie stick.
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