American Gangster

By Mark Ramsey | 2007/11/08

Based on a true story of bad dudes who truly don’t look anything like Denzel Washington and good dudes who look exactly like Ron Jeremy, it’s American Gangster!

Yes, we’re back in the day when mutton chops were a facial hair fashion statement, and the statement wasn’t “Look out, my face is being orbited by two patches of hair and my gravitational field is attracting them just as it repels you!”


It turns out there was a time when folks dressed like pimps because it looked cool, not because it was Halloween.

Cut to Russell Crowe in a different neighborhood, with a new girlfriend who instructs him to “F**k me like a cop, not a lawyer.” I’ve spent the past several days processing that request, and all I can figure out is that she wants to be served a citation rather than a summons. By the way, I’m just as confused when Russell asks her to “eat Crowe.”

Russell is, indeed, a cop. And, miraculously, he works for the same police sergeant that Monk works for two thousand miles and 37 years away! How can that be?!

This movie certainly is educational. I learned how to procure and traffic heroin! Try gaining a skill like that from High School Musical!

The most important step, I now know, is to have a room full of young, attractive, and naked women cutting and bagging the merchandise because, let’s face it, there are certain jobs that are simply too skilled for older and male workers to comprehend, and I say Thank God. “It gives new meaning to those little stickers that say ‘inspected by 69,’” says Denzel.

To get his heroin, Denzel goes straight to the source in Bangkok, Thailand, where the stuff is grown and harvested just like Thai food – which, it turns out, is much harder to get in Harlem than heroin is. Yes, these Soul brothers and sisters have more puncture marks than all the foreheads in Sex and the City combined.

Denzel’s source is a Bangkok businessman who suspiciously resembles one-time Liza Minnelli beau David Gest. You can spot him thanks to the excess Botox leaking from his tear ducts when he stretches his mouth into a smile.

Russell Crowe is in a three-piece suit and a Jackson Browne hairdo. And he kinda shuffles when he walks to make his character look vulnerable and hide the fact that he’s ready to throw a phone at you for the least indiscretion.

Russell’s job is to break this heroin cartel, so he fights crime the only way he knows how: By photographing suspects, tacking the photos up to a big wall, and staring at it intently for hours on end.

“I’m either gonna bust this case wide open,” says Crowe, “or create the most beautiful photographic collage in department history!”


Russell goes in to bust Denzel’s operation using walkie talkies the size of toasters. “We might need another station wagon just for all our walkie talkies,” said Russell to another cop who was busy daydreaming about the doorway beads and black light posters he was going to buy for his game room.

Look fast and you’ll see a cameo from Oscar winner Cuba Gooding, Jr., who is taking time out from Daddy Day Care IX to snort some pure and potent career “China white” from director Ridley Scott, his new ambassador of “kwan.”

Meanwhile, the most egregious makeup transformation belongs to stalwart character actor Joe Morton who, with his straightened hair, pipe, and cardigan, looks like Robert Young in “Sammy Davis Jr. Knows Best.”

I loved American Gangster. Especially the fabulous Ruby Dee in an Oscar-worthy turn as Denzel’s mom. 2007 is still young when it comes to the best movies of the year, but it’s hard to imagine that American Gangster won’t be among them.


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