Frustrated by the repetitious grind of one night stands and aimless hustling, stud drug dealer Rick (Vin Diesel) is finally looking for meaning and intimacy in his life. Like his testosterone-tweaked buddies, Rick is a "stray" lacking a traditional family structure and wrestling subconsciously with the psychological bruises inflicted by his father's absence. When Rick meets Heather (Suzanne Lanza), a "girl next door," he recognizes an opportunity for a committed relationship. Though the chemistry between them is instant, Rick's street cheek and volatile aggression threaten to extinguish their relationship before it begins.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
"Introducing Vin Diesel" says the card in the opening titles ... the actor who's done as much for singlets as Che Guevara has done for T shirts. This, his directing debut, is one for and from the streets of New York; the colour and movement overtakes the story. The characters aren't interesting enough to hold up the film for anyone outside the milieu, even though they are well observed and acutely portrayed with a sense of veracity that bounces off the screen. Chasing girls, smoking dope, having illicit fun ... in a variety of crude and rude ways. Rick (Vin Diesel), is one of the boys, a sex machine - but he's trying to change his ways and find someone special. A beautiful blonde neighbour, Heather (Suzanne Lanza) gives him a chance - but he blows it, just by being what he is. A tough guy who knows nothing better.
The film plays like a Vin Diesel wish list of who he'd like to be. A tough guy with a soft and sensitive side, a cool romantic hero - like his character Rick (guess where that name comes from). When he makes his moves on Heather, he's stepping outside his world. He is desperate to change; that's the film's one big positive as a study in the human condition.
Diesel is credible as a stray in Manhattan trying to go straight, and Lanza delivers a likeable girlfriend from a world far away from Rick's. Diesel has excellent help from cinematographer Andrew Dunn who makes him look good, but the film lacks the strong storyline that would stitch it all together. Ironically, there is a big sentimental streak running through it that softens the impact of Rick's salvation.
Published August 7, 2008
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STRAYS: DVD (MA)
CAST: Vin Diesel, Joey Dedio, T. K. Kirkland, Mike Epps, F. Valentino Morales, Suzanne Lanza, Darnell Williams, Michaela Tudorof, Eguene Osborne Smith, Temple Brooks
PRODUCER: Vin Diesel, John Sale, George Zakk
DIRECTOR: Vin Diesel
SCRIPT: Vin Diesel
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Dunn
MUSIC: Julius Robinson
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Zeljka Pavlivonic
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: All Interactive
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 15, 2008
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.