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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Northwest Junkie Pranksters
I am always surprised at how many people have not heard of this film. Although released back in 1989, this is definitely one of Van Sant's best films. This flick takes you into the day to day routine of Bob (played by Matt Dillon) and his melancholic and nomadic band of junkies who roam around the Pacific Northwest raiding pharmacies and hospital drug cabinets in search...
Published on January 14, 2002 by Darren

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but would not watch this movie again
Distracting soundtrack music. Direction could have been much better, but was not. I think the film lacked substance. You will not be missing anything if you do not see this film.
Published 10 months ago by Bangagong Getiton, San Francisco


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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Northwest Junkie Pranksters, January 14, 2002
By 
Darren (Jersey Shore, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Drugstore Cowboy [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I am always surprised at how many people have not heard of this film. Although released back in 1989, this is definitely one of Van Sant's best films. This flick takes you into the day to day routine of Bob (played by Matt Dillon) and his melancholic and nomadic band of junkies who roam around the Pacific Northwest raiding pharmacies and hospital drug cabinets in search of Valium, Dilaudid and other narcotic goodies to pop, shoot and snort.
The mood of this film is generally very dysphoric however some comic relief is added throughout in the dialogue and 'trippy' visual imagery. Some of the pranks they pull on the detective they are eluding are also pretty humorous.
The movie definitely captures the 70's era well with its acting, dialogue and wardrobe. Superb acting by Dillon as the intimacy phobic, restless and highly superstitious ringleader, Kelly Lynch as his less than satisfied girlfriend, James LeGros as simpleminded Rick, and Heather Graham as the young ditzy neophyte who literally goes overboard trying hard fit into this group of merry prankster junkies.
This movie is a creative little exploration into the day to day routine and psyche of the junkie, so if you can't handle the portrayal of this reality, then this is another movie that isn't for you. Interestingly, William Burroughs plays a short role as a junkie priest, adding some penetrating social commentary towards the end.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Van Sant's best movie...., January 6, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Drugstore Cowboy [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I was fortunate to see this film in its limited original release. Over the years much of it stayed with me, and it has stood up to repeated viewings. Hard to say what had the most impact: To see Matt Dillon turn in one of the best acting performances of that year? To witness one of the first performances of an interesting, talented unknown named Heather Graham? Or maybe the inspired performance of William Burroughs in a key role near the end? All the performances in this movie ring true. Truly one of the major overlooked films of the last 20 years.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DVD review..., May 15, 2000
By 
"jwire1" (Lexington, KY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Drugstore Cowboy (DVD)
First off, let me say that Drugstore Cowboy is a great film, one of my favorites. This review is about the DVD release, not the film. The picture has a few flaws, dirt and noise in some scenes, lines in others... At times it can be distracting. Other times, it looks really nice. Having seen this film at least 6 or 8 times, I knew going in that I would really pay attention to the picture. Despite the problems (I'm starting to believe it's the source print of the film) the DVD is the best that the film has looked since it's theatrical release and I'm just glad that it's available. The sound is a 2.0 digital mix. Nothing great, but a good mix. Everything sounds clean and it has very good detail and level. The documentary is an interesting "making of" look at the film and is a nice extra. The commentary track features both Matt Dillon and Gus Van Sant and is fairly interesting. Overall, the DVD could be better (the bells and whistles of major studio releases overshadow smaller films like this one) but it is a nice release. If you love Drugstore Cowboy and are debating on picking this up on DVD, go ahead, you'll be pleased with it. Just don't expect perfection.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best film Of 1989, January 16, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Drugstore Cowboy [VHS] (VHS Tape)
sying that this film is the best of it's year is quite a compliment since 1989 was perhaps the last truly great year in American cinema,or at least interesting(sex lies videotpe, mystery train,do the right thing,hell even Batman the highest grossing film of that year was pretty interesting.)This film is melancholy personified, the swishy swashy rythm of the film puts you inside the head of a junky so much to the point that something like watching dead leaves float about in a rain puddle becomes a grand opera. the beauty of the film, shot in a sort of bluish hazed style defies you to take a moral position on the character's lifestyle. But in the end like the character bob, we realize that the vices in drugs are not a moral one but rather a philisophical one that it is more noble to face the problems and mundanities that life has to offer rather than to try to escape them through means such as religion or even drugs.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I agree: definitely Gus van Sant's best so far, May 22, 2000
By 
This review is from: Drugstore Cowboy [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is Gus Van Sant's best movie to date, no question. Matt Dillon is our disillusioned hero and narrator, leading his crew on a non-stop journey round the hotels and chemists of the Midwest. The acting and script for Drugstore Cowboy are so tight, it's great. There are some true comedy scenes (a number involving the stowing of corpses, some cool police escapes and one classic where a stoned Bob (Dillon) tries to fend off his wife Diane's amorous advances) but Van Sant also creates a sense of yearning and sadness as we get toward the end of the story. And the music is divine too - especially the use of 'The Israelites'.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some like it black, August 16, 2002
By 
captain howdy (Antwerp, Belgium) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Drugstore Cowboy (DVD)
Before director Gus Van Sant decided to get all mushy on us with the likes of Finding Forrester, he made this suprisingly little-seen gem. The first time I saw it was not long after having seen Trainspotting, and I immediately understood where Trainspotting had found a great amount of its inspiration - like that film, Drugstore Cowboy is essentially a comedy. Black as they come, but a comedy none the less.
The story of a group of four junkies who raid drugstores in their search for drugs, this film takes a gritty, unflinching look at drugabuse and the hell people go through while using and after they quit. Shifting tones between deeply dramatic and darkly comical, Van Sant never judges his characters, but just allows them to speak for themselves - literally, as Matt Dillon's character narrates the movie. Dillon has never been better than here, and is supported by an excellent Kelly Lynch (where did she go in the meantime, anyway?) and a very young Heather Graham.
There are moments in this film you'll remember forever: when Dillon and Lynch get stuck in a motel hosting a sheriff's convention with a dead body on their hands, you don't know whether to laugh, cry or shiver at the thought. And who ever suspected that a song like "The Israelites" could be made to sound so haunting? In the framework of this movie, it does. Above all, this movie comes across as very honest and heartfelt, emotional without being corny, effective without being preachy.
DVD-edition features a fine transfer of the film - its occasional graininess is likely due to either the low budget it was shot on in the first place, or an artistic choice. I've never seen it any better than here, and the rough edges of it do seem to add to its content and mood. Commentary by Van Sant and Dillon starts out entertaining, but towards the end they seem to be searching for new things to say. Very good "making of"-featurette.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never put a hat on the bed, April 11, 2007
By 
This review is from: Drugstore Cowboy (DVD)
Bob (Matt Dillon) has a perfect druggie's life. He and his wife Dianne (Kelly Lynch) and close friend Rick (James LeGros) have a perfectly working scheme to rob pharmacies for prescription drugs. Rick has recently taken new girlfriend Nadine (a young Heather Graham) into the fold.

But the cops, especially Gentry (James Remar), are onto Bob and his little operation. Bob and his crew must be very careful. After a raid to their home, they are forced to move to an apartment complex where Bob performs a reverse sting on the police.

Aside from the "stress and strain of staying high", Bob has to deal with his intense superstitions such as not mentioning dogs, not looking at the back of a mirror, and NEVER putting a hat on the bed. If a superstition is broken, bad luck comes to all.

'Drugstore Cowboy', in all honesty, turned me off because of the word "cowboy" in the title, but believe me this is a total addiction/drug movie and has nothing to do with cowboys or westerns at all. Set in 1971, the props (cars, record players, fashions, soundtrack) are all true to form. Topping the chart on interest is the appearance of the one and only William S. Burroughs (author of Naked Lunch and Junky) as a former priest named Tom with a bad habit.

There are a few very graphic needle scenes but otherwise no overt violence, and the actors (especially Max Perlich as David) did great jobs of "tweaking". The problems start when Bob is effected by the death of one of his gang, and decides to go home and go straight on a methadone program, explaining the problems of a junkie to his caseworker as "The pressures of everyday life, like having to tie your shoes."

My only problem with the DVD was that there were no subtitles for either English hearing impaired or any other languages. If your hearing impaired, you'll have to turn the volume WAY up. Still, this is a drug addiction movie you won't want to miss. The acting is incredible, the characters fully fleshed and completely believable, and the scripting tight and true. Definitely a worthwhile addition to your addiction collection. Enjoy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Independent Film making at its Finest, September 15, 2003
By 
Drew Hunkins (Madison, WI United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Drugstore Cowboy (DVD)
The best aspect of Drugstore Cowboy is that any sententious moralizing about getting high is kept to a minimum while the audience is left to make up its own mind regarding the pros and cons of tuning in, turning on, and dropping out.

Set in Portland during the early 70s; Van Sant has put together one of the finest independent films ever. Excellent quips such as Dillon's character referring to a young junky as a "TV Baby" make for a meaningful and scintillating script. It's also a humorous movie with certain scenes retaining an understated comic appeal. While the sets give a fantastic portrait of 1970s west coast junkie life.

The always intriguing late William Burroughs makes an appearance in the last quarter of the picture as Father Murphy, a well known old school addict who also happens to be a man of the cloth. The dialogue between him and Dillon's character is the high point of the movie; writing just doesn't come much better than this.

Drugstore Cowboy is simply brilliant all the way around and stands as an example of what American film making can achieve if the giant studios are kept from meddling in the artistic process.

It should be remembered that Burroughs' classic book on the dope scene: "Junky", would make for a nice companion to the movie.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars first film in Van Sant's trilogy, April 2, 2001
This review is from: Drugstore Cowboy [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This film came out in 1989, funny because it looks modern. I think of "Drugstore Cowboy" and his next 2 films ("My Own Private Idaho" and "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues") as a trilogy of sorts because they're all about people who don't have a real home, they wander from place to place, almost aimlessly except for their one goal. In this case, the goal is the next fix. They also have some of the same cast members in each one even if it's just a cameo. Stylistically, they're shot very much the same way. "Drugstore Cowboy" is probably the most surreal of them all, with visuals of pills and needles flying in front of your face. It also showcases Matt Dillon's best acting as a superstition-obsessed junkie. I can only give 4 stars out of five because as good (sad, funny) as the film is, the plot meanders slightly 3/4 of the way through. But it's still one of the best movies I've ever seen.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Sometimes bad luck can be good luck.", October 7, 2005
This review is from: Drugstore Cowboy (DVD)
In a downward spiraling saga of drug abuse in the 1971 Pacific Northwest, Bob (Matt Dillon) and his wife, Diane (Kelly Lynch) canvas neighborhoods, choosing locations to burglarize, local pharmacies their specialty. Their movements are constricted by the superstitions that make as much sense as anything else they do, a hat on the bed, the back side of a mirror, anything can trigger a string of bad luck that will take them all the way down. To avoid detection by local authorities, Diane sends their drugs ahead to bus stations across the country, hopefully not more than eight hours away, so that the drugs they're on don't wear off. Along the way, Bob finally gets tired of the life and returns to Portland to enroll in a methadone program, leaving Diane to make her own way. She's nowhere near ready to quit.

Old habits die hard and although Bob is committed to living without pharmaceuticals, even working a straight job, the neighborhood is filled with temptation, addicts on every street corner and down every alley. Attending group counseling and avoiding his old haunts, Bob finds comfort in an old friend, a parish priest from his childhood, one of the most serious junkies Bob has ever known, "Father must have shot a million dollars up his arm". Settling into a new way of living, Bob admits, "For all the boredom, the straight life ain't so bad." Then a former street pal makes a late night visit to Bob's place, demanding money or drugs. When Bob can't give what he doesn't have, the intruder shoots him. Even though he recognizes him, Bob won't identify his assailant for the cops, feeling it's his time to pay the piper. Sirens blaring, Bob is taken to the hospital, the biggest pharmacy of them all.

The cinematography is eerily effective, dreary, wet and monochromatic, the addicts moving in slow motion from one high to the next. The supporting cast, Rick (James LeGros), Nadine (Heather Graham) and Detective Gentry (James Remar), drift as satellites around the main characters, Bob and Diane, the doomed couple. Rick and Nadine are newcomers brought along on a cross country trip to show them the ropes, but they are young and greedy and Nadine gives herself a hot shot with some pure-grade pharmaceutical. After that, Bob can't make himself go on. Dillon is effective as a man caught up in a habit that is stealing his life, ever more anxious as the cycle goes on, finally too emotionally and physically exhausted to continue. Although Diane and Bob have been together since they were kids, Diane can't accompany her husband on this final ride, exuding her own quiet desperation, forced to relinquish her only solid relationship.

Gus Van Sant captures the somber mood of the drug life, the endless pursuit of pleasure and the agony of potential withdrawal, even Bob's slowly emerging sobriety painted with the realism that accompanies such a journey. Bob speaks to a counselor about the pressures of everyday life, acknowledging the futility of her work, "nobody, and I mean nobody, can talk a junkie out of using." Like the ill-fated alcoholic pair in "The Days of Wine and Roses", Bob and Diane are destined to part ways, the drugs that brought them together eventually dooming their marriage. Drugstore Cowboy may begin with the joyful looting of a pharmacy, but it ends face to face with the violence that is endemic to the lifestyle. Luan Gaines/2005.
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Drugstore Cowboy
Drugstore Cowboy by Gus Van Sant (DVD - 1999)
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