Some Hollywood directors, such as Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) and Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream) go to great lengths to portray drug addiction and substance abuse in as realistic manner as possible in their films. They capture every grueling aspect of addiction -from the euphoric rush of the drug to the terrifying crashes that inevitably follow.
But not every moviemaker is as concerned with realism. Take for example the following movies, each of which portrays drug use about as realistically as Heather Locklear playing a nuclear physicist.
5. Midnight Cowboy.
Yes, the movie is the only X-Rated film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, but there’s something about Dustin Hoffman’s fatal tangle with drug addiction that is less “I’m a methadone addict” and more “I’m a method actor.” Now Jon Voight as a gay hustler cowboy? That we believe.
OK, some people are going to tell you that this epic Academy Award winner is one of the most realistic portrayals of drug use ever put on celluloid, but let’s stop and think about this for a minute. An upper-class housewife sees her husband go to jail for trafficking and three days later she just takes a nice drive down to Mexico and sets up her own drug deal with a ruthless cartel? The kid from That 70’s Show buys his drugs in inner-city Baltimore’s worst housing project? Michael Douglas is married to Catherine Zeta-Jones? What? That last one is real? Oh.
Al Pacino’s so-called Cuban accent wasn’t the only thing played over the top in this Brian De Palma epic tale of money, violence and powder. The cocaine scenes inside Tony Montana’s house are played to the hilt, as the kingpin snorts from giant mountains of what must have been the most expensive baby powder ever ordered to the set of a Hollywood production.
2. Basketball Diaries.
Nobody has ever accused Leonardo Di Caprio of coming off as too rough around the edges. But what he does with the seriously gritty source material of Jim Carroll’s memoir about heroin addiction in the early 1970’s is just plain wrong. It’s so hard to believe that Leo ever struggles with anything that it takes away the power of what should have been a great film. Don’t believe it? Check out the wind blowing through the A-lister’s hair in the opening of the trailer. Gritty indeed.
1. Reefer Madness.
The unintentionally hilarious drug movie by which all others are judged. Reefer Madness may have been released over half-a-century ago, but after all these years it