'White Boy Rick,' Filmed In Cleveland, Is A Heartwarming True Family Drama You'll Have To See To Believe

What happens when a 15-year-old boy becomes a drug dealer and FBI informant?

September 11, 2018
875092 - "White Boy Rick" - DF-00699_r - Richie Merritt, left, and Matthew McConaughey star as Richard Wershe Jr. and Richard Wershe Sr. in Columbia Pictures’ and Studio 8’s WHITE BOY RICK.

Scott Garfield; © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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White Boy Rick is a movie that won't exactly tell you what its about right away. But at its core, its a family drama that deals with the relationship of Richard Wershe Sr. (Matthew McConaughey) and his son Rick (Richie Merritt), as well as his daughter, Dawn.

Rick, or Ricky (a.k.a. White Boy Rick) has a close relationship with his father throughout the film, but at points its tough to tell whether or not he knows it or not.

A lot of the trouble Ricky got in to in 1980s Detroit in the film was initially sparked by an agreement with the FBI to protect his father. And again, later in the plot, he starts dealing drugs to help his father open a business. 

The two are friends, but throughout, with Detroit in decay as the setting, Ricky keeps telling us he wants to get out. Move somewhere bigger and better.

"Nothing good has happened here in a long time," he says. So does he trust his father? Richie Merritt's performance makes it hard to tell.

Merritt plays the teen anti-hero in the movie. What I found most troubling was his accent. Somewhere between urban to ghetto to country to midwest, I couldn't quite put my finger on it. The character's facial expressions are also mostly blank, but that may be because his situation is one of bewilderment throughout.

Matthew McConaughey steals the show, hands down, though.

Even if he's not the titular character, the struggle of him as the father who has to deal with a drug dealing son who is constantly in and out of trouble, and a junkie daughter, is not an easy one.

McConaughey's performance is layered, as he shows off his range as an actor with great aplomb. Interacting with so many young actors as well as season vets like Jennifer Jason Leigh, who portrays an FBI agent, McConaughey should be lauded for this role.

Wershe, Sr. is truly best friends with his son, and the pride that McConaughey shows shines through on the big screen.

Overall, White Boy Rick's story is a little complex. There's a lot to take in, in just an hour and fifty minutes.

A lot of the plot lines are overlapping and competing for screen time. Its not a bad thing, and its all very intriguing, but at times the film seems to jump around.

At the end of the film, this makes for a little bit of blurred message of what to take away at the conclusion.

I liked White Boy Rick. The Wershe family warmed my heart. Ricky's story was one that made me think. But the way the story was told, and some of the acting, made the film just above average in my mind.

By the way, you might be wondering, how much of Cleveland can you see in White Boy Rick? Cleveland.com answered that question for us.

See if you can spot these spots when you see White Boy Rick:

  • The old Justice Center outside the courthouse
  • Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds
  • the Aut-o-Rama Drive-in
  • the old Howard Johnson's in Strongsville
  • JACK Casino
  • E. 128th and Miles
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