Havoc is a complete waste of our time and the cast and crew’s talent.
If The Offspring’s hit song “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” was made into a movie, it’d probably turn out just like Havoc—a film that is supposed to be some sort of social commentary, but really is just a glossy piece of fluff.
The film follows the lives of Allison (Anne Hathaway, The Princess Diaries), a spoiled rich white kid with an oh-so troubled life, and her “crew” of other spoiled rich white kids who embarrassingly attempt to emulate hip hop culture, right down to the ridiculous bling bling. Bored with their plastic, well-off lives, they drive to gang-ridden downtown Los Angeles to experience the “real” world. At this juncture, we’d just like to remind you that, no, this isn’t supposed to be a comedy, but we can understand how you might mistake it for one.
Writers Stephen Gaghan (Traffic) and Jessica Kaplan seem to be trying to do the impossible—make us empathize with a bunch of brats who go “slummin’ it” and find out that they’re in over their heads. The characters are all totally unsympathetic and really just come off as complete idiots—particularly Allison who seems to practically ask for trouble over and over again. It’s hard to believe that Gaghan’s name is attached to this, considering he’s also the man responsible for the Oscar-nominated Syriana earlier this year.
Anne Hathaway’s performance is probably going to be the last thing anyone’s going to notice as she decides to ditch her Disney image for something much trampier. Her various nude scenes, however, shouldn’t overshadow a pretty good performance on her part, despite the character being a completely shallow one. Her strongest moment is when she numbingly confronts her friend Emily’s (Bijou Phillips, Almost Famous) parents about what they were really doing downtown. But the best performance of the entire cast is from Third Rock from the Sun’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Sam, the perpetually stoned sidekick to Allison’s Eminem look-alike boyfriend Toby (Mike Vogel, Grind). It’s a very minor role, but Gordon-Levitt plays it so completely over-the-top that he absolutely owns every scene he’s in.
Director Barbara Kopple (who’s best known for her documentary work, as well as helming several episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street) does palpable work of showing the vast difference between the streets downtown and Allison’s plush neighborhood through subtle use of contrasting hues. But all in all, we have no idea why some Hollywood bigwig decided to make this lame movie: It’s got zero substance, and just goes on to make us even more annoyed at kids who can’t be bothered to find their own sense of identity. We say skip this one.