10/29/2013 02:41 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Popcorn Preview: Dallas Buyers Club

Film: Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Cast includes: Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike), Jennifer Garner (Juno), Jared Leto (Lord of War), Denis O'Hare (Milk), Kevin Rankin (Breaking Bad), Steve Zahn (The Perfect Getaway)
Writers: Craig Borten, Melissa Wallack (Meet Bill)
Director: Jean-Marc Valée: (The Young Victoria, C.R.A.Z.Y.)
Genre: Drama (117 minutes)

Dallas 1986... Ron Woodroof is enthusiastically hooked on drugs, alcohol, rodeo, pussy... and might as well throw in gambling... if TJ can stay on that bull for 8 seconds, it's worth $640, including a $100 hooker. Ron will never understand stuff like what's in today's newspaper about Rock Hudson... a queer... "all that pussy power wasted." When TJ fails to make 8 seconds, Ron's does the only thing he can do... run... and get himself arrested. "They're gonna kick the shit outta you some day." Feels like they already did. Ron barely makes it back to his trailer before passing out. But he's back on his electrician's job the next day. When he almost electrocutes himself on a circuit breaker, he wakes up in the hospital. "We saw something that concerned us... You've tested positive for HIV," say the doctors. "I ain't no homo or faggot or whatever," Ron yells. He's out of control. "Look, your T cells are down to 9... normal is over 500... we estimate you've got about 30 days to put your affairs in order." They've got some pamphlets to give him. "Fuck this! I'm gonna give you a little news flash. There ain't nothing out there that can kill Ron Woodroof in 30 days." He's out the door and the countdown begins.

Day 1... it's an orgy... cocaine, alcohol, girls... but somehow Ron isn't into it. "Did the damn doctor cut your balls off?" TJ asks. "He's trying to tell me I've got some kind of HIV." "That's for queers and faggots." "That's why it's a mistake," says Ron. After that, he spends time in the library learning everything he can. In the meantime, Dallas Mercy Hospital is starting drug trials for AZT. By day 7, Ron's back at the hospital looking for the doctor. Dr. Eve Saks isn't putting up with Ron's outbursts, and it turns out Ron "likes her style." He needs to "get me some of that AZT." She can't do it and explains about drug trials and FDA regulations. But Ron's found out that overseas, they have treatments. Eve has nothing to offer but support groups. "I'm dying and you're tellin me to go get a hug from a bunch of faggots? Fuck y'all. Fuck all y'all."

Ron's "not ready to crawl in a corner and die." But he needs some kind of a sign... and surprisingly, he finds one. He never finds a cure, though. What he finds are temporary fixes. It's a rough ride, but he manages to piece together enough temporary fixes to buy himself days, months and even years. The film is based (with creative license) on a 1992 article in the Dallas Morning News about Ron Woodroof. Ron soon realizes he can support his quest for time by making his vitamins, supplements and drugs... "not illegal, merely unapproved"... available to others... including faggots... especially faggots. Matthew McConaughey gives a truly stunning performance as the fast-talking "Texas hick-wad, dumb ass," who will go anywhere, fight anyone, and ultimately embraces anyone and anything that will help him buy time. It's an outstanding script, with an abundance of insight and memorable lines. It's a good thing Ron's a rodeo lover because life with HIV is a lot like riding a bull. If HIV doesn't knock you to the ground, there's the FDA, DEA, IRS, CDC and NIH... all trying to make sure you don't cure yourself before the HIV can kill you.

4 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
1n 1986, the medical community has nothing to offer Ron Woodroof for his HIV, so he sets out to cure himself while taking on the whole medical establishment

Popcorn Profile
Rated: R (Language, violence, sexual content, drugs)
Audience: Grown-ups
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Primary Driver: Character, True Story
Language: True to life and extra salty
Social Significance: Informative & Thought provoking

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You may want to read about other Matthew McConaughey movies on Popcorn Diary:


Killer Joe‎

Magic Mike

The Paperboy‎

The Lincoln Lawyer


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