Intoxicating (2003) from Tuna

Intoxicating is a weepy-ass, dyin' man, drugs suck, soap opera movie. Pretty much everything I hate. If they had included an evil dwarf and a surprise identical twin, I would swear they made this film as a personal vendetta against me. I guess I just wasn't in the target audience because, based on the IMDb voting, this is probably the most estrogen-centric film ever made, with a 9.1 for women vs. 4.9 for men.

It stars Kirk Harris as a brilliant heart surgeon whose father, a former prize fighter, is dying of "pugilistic dementia." Harris, who also wrote the screenplay, did one thing I approve of here. By starring in it, he saved a real actor somewhere the embarrassment of speaking his lines. He was also physically wrong for the part, looking far more suited to play the boxer father than the hotshot heart surgeon.

The surgeon works 14 hours a day, breaks into the pharmacy on his way out and loads up on pure medical heroin, which he then trades to a drug dealer for the far less healthy cocaine. And believe it or not, he has a girlfriend, whose idea of a good time is getting drunk and high with him, having sex, then praying to the porcelain gods. When his girlfriend's best friend comes to visit, our doctor seems to love the fact that she has sworn off drinking because a drunk driver killed her daughter, so he plies her with booze and drugs, leading to an eventual overdose once she has become his new girlfriend. I have no idea what either woman was supposed to find appealing in his character, since he was almost always working, during which time he acted like a cocky, egotistical surgeon. The rest of the time he was either sleeping or getting wasted.

Meanwhile, his job performance is continually declining. When the new girlfriend ODs and he breaks her out of the hospital, he loses his job. Then his father dies. Then he does a little jail time ...

... then he sees the light.

O, happy day.

The visual style of the film was great, no, awful, no, ok. In other words, there was no consistent visual style. Someone who knew how to hold, adjust and aim a camera was responsible for some of the scenes, but many were done in shakeycam, while others were done with lots of grain, or odd-colored lighting. While I have seen different visual styles used in films to contrast the present with flashbacks, or dreams with reality, I couldn't glean any logic behind this particular mishmash of styles.




  • Laurie Baranyay, as his original girlfriend, shows breasts and buns, mostly while purging. Note that, given her slight figure, I suspect she has plenty of practice at this.

  • Camilla Overbye Roos, as the other girlfriend, shows breasts briefly in a sex scene.

The Critics Vote ...

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a D.

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