Doug Liman, US, 1999, 103 minutes (SIMON is approximately 30 minutes)
GO is a film made up of three shorts--each revolving around a central character, though there are several main characters that make appearances in every short. The movie is set up with Claire (Katie Holmes) at a diner talking to a mystery man--all we see is the back of his head. Claire mentions how yesterday she never would have thought she'd be there with him--and thus we are sent back to yesterday to find out through a convoluted mess of circumstances how Claire ended up at the diner.
The first short is entitled "Ronna." Ronna is a supermarket Clerk who is going to be evicted if she doesn't come up with some fast cash. She volunteers to take over a shift for Simon, who says he is off to Vegas with some friends. Ronna not only takes his shift at the supermarket, she also ends up taking on a pair of his drug clients. (Scott Wolfe and Jay Mohr). Ronna goes to Simon's dealer for her first big deal and after leaving Claire with Todd (Timothy Olyphant) as collateral, she goes to make the deal with Adam and Zack. The deal goes bad when Ronna figures out she's being set up and she ends up flushing the pills. She tricks Todd into thinking a bottle of aspirin are the ecstasy tablets she's returning, and then she, Claire, and another friend Manny (who has no real part except comic relief) go off to a rave to make some money on stupid kids who can't tell mind-altering drugs from allergy medicine. All is well! Yes? No! Todd finds Ronna and is about to shoot her in the parking lot when... She gets hit by a yellow sports car! I guess that solves that....
The second section, and the section I will later focus on, is SIMON. Once Simon leaves for Vegas, we find that he is stuffed into a trunk. Oh my gosh, why is Simon in a trunk?? Oh, I get it, it's just a prank. His friends are so funny. The four guys get to Vegas and Simon loses his money gambling. Then he meets two girls and has sex with both of them. Then they set the hotel room on fire. Then he goes to a strip club, gets in trouble with a stripper, and shoots a bouncer. The rest of the short is Simon and his friends trying to get away from said bouncer and said bouncers father. The short ends when the bouncer's car crashes and overturns and the four friends get away.....
The final short is entitled ADAM AND ZACK. Adam and Zack are actors who got busted doing drugs. (Entertainers do drugs??? WHAT???) They're also closet homosexuals who are cheating on each other with the same guy. Oops. Adam and Zack make a deal to set up Simon, who always provided their drugs, but when Simon's out of town, the cops settled for Ronna. We get the same scene at Adam and Zack's house with Ronna and the drug deal, except this time we see that Zack mouths the word "Go" to Ronna just as she's beginning to get suspicious. The boys still make their deal, but the cop in charge of the bust asks them to come over for dinner. Strange events ensue, nothing pivotal to any plot, anywhere, ever. Adam and Zack end up taking their yellow sports car after the guy they had both been sleeping with who is at the same Rave where Ronna and her crew is. And yes, if you haven't guessed it, it is Adam and Zack that send Ronna flying into a ditch. They decide to save her--no, run away--no, they have to go back and get the body! They do go back, but she's alive! Hooray! They leave her on the hood of a car where teenage kids call 911. At least someone has some good sense in this movie.
After Adam and Zack's story is finished, we get an ending to the entire film in which Claire ends up in the diner with... Todd! The drug dealer that just a few hours ago she was terrified of! Well, now with the help of some ginseng and afore mentioned mind-altering drugs, she is Chatty Kathy and happy to have company. They end up at Todd's apartment where the Vegas bouncer and his father are waiting for Todd! (Did I forget to mention that Simon had Todd's credit card? My bad.) Todd explains the situation just as Simon bursts through the door asking to hide out with Todd for a while because--- oh my god! The crazy bouncer! In the end they decide that the bouncer can shoot Simon's arm for retribution and everyone lives happily ever after.
Just kidding, there's actually ANOTHER ending after that in which Ronna limps back to work, she and Claire realize that they left drugged-out Manny at the rave and they go rescue him.
So, I'm not completely convince that GO can really be considered an omnibus since there are several threads that aren't explained within the confines of each short. It would in no way be satisfying to see Ronna get hit by the car is you don't later see who was driving the car. Or, if we got Adam and Zack's version of the accident, we would left wondering who the man with the gun is and why was he going to shoot Ronna. But I guess if you don't ask questions they are three distinct and interesting shorts, if not convoluted and contrived, but I think most of the humor lies in the outlandish situations.
I did think that SIMON was the most complete of all three shorts in that it's characters were somewhat contained within the boundaries of the short. The music struck me throughout the film, but definitely within this story. There is a lot of techno crap (oh lord, I just felt my grade in the course drop a letter) but every once in a while the scene will shift, the guys wil jump in the car and we're listening to Magic Carpet Ride. The music was pretty surprising like that. Most of the entertainment in this section was from the humor that is stuffed in like a TV sitcom. Simon's has a magnetic pull to trouble and every step is bigger than the last. (There's a very self-reflexive moment--after he tells the girls that he learned to drive by watching American TV, we get the car chase full of screeching wheels and alley way detours.)
What impressed me as a whole about the movie was how the filming fit the story and the characters so well. There are a lot of fast cuts, and scene shifts, all of the rave scenes are filled with flashing lights and hazy views. Form and content meshed extremely well.
The threads that are laced through the different sections, though disruptive of the omnibus, offer many "aha!" moments and not in a tricky way, but a revealing and interesting way. Even though I'm skeptical of the omnibus-ness, I like how really the three sections can be held separate. I wonder if "RONNA" would make a good short with the ending as-is-- Ronna getting hit by the car, lights out, the end. i think it would be unexpected by welcomed.
Again, a lot of this movie is filled with unlikely circumstance, but once you suspend your disbelief and go with all the crazy unfortunate events, it's actually both funny and clever.