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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Based on a true story.

White Boy Rick (2018) on IMDb

Plot Overview

It's November, 1984, the height of the “Just Say No” era. At a gun show in Toledo, Ohio, fourteen-year-old Ricky Wershe (Richie Merritt) spots a dealer selling ersatz Russian AK-47s. He gets his dealer dad Richard Wershe Sr. (Matthew McConaughey) to scoop them up on the cheap, and stopping on the heath out­side of Detroit, his dad explains how they're both “lions in a world of sheep.” As soon as his dad earns enough in weapons dealing he plans to open a music store.

Dad doesn't like the (black) man Ricky's sister Dawn (Bel Powley) is seeing (“Ty is a f___ing lowlife.”) The FBI doesn't like the influx of violence from deadly weapons they trace back to Wershe Sr. Ricky doesn't like being the drug infiltrator the FBI forces him to be in exchange for laying off his dad. The gang's leader Johnny Curry (Jonathan Majors) doesn't like “White Boy Rick” dipping into his product, but it was expected so they bring him on board. And rival gangs don't much like each other.

After the dust settles, Ricky finds that he likes the life, and he likes Curry's wife Cathy Volsan-Curry (Taylour Paige) who is lonely now that her husband is in jail. The FBI are appreciative enough of Ricky's past service to put in a word with the judge should they need to, but there are no guarantees. Some­body liked the kid's story enough to make a movie of it.


On a trip to Vegas, Ricky buys some bling that includes a large star of David. It behooves us to examine the story from a Jewish perspective. Ricky was a discriminating evaluator of fire­arms, being able to discern the difference between an inferior Egyptian AK-47 and the standard Russian one, based on a couple small vent holes. Egypt was known to the Jews as “the land of Ham”, (Psalm 105:23) “Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.” Ham was one of the sons of Noah, he settled in Egypt and in Africa.

Noah had three sons, (Gen. 5:32) “And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” A curious incident takes place after they have settled in the revived world, which will define human occupation hence­forth. Gen. 9:20-22, Noah got drunk on wine and was exposed in all his glory to his son Ham who brazenly viewed him uncovered in his tent. Noah's other two sons, Shem and Japheth, covered him up, Gen. 9:23. Ham had violated him in some way that Noah sniffed out upon awakening, Gen. 9:24. Noah's curse puts Ham's youngest son Canaan in a position of servitude, Gen. 9:25. Noah's other two sons Shem, Gen. 9:26, and Japheth, Gen. 9:27, were blessed by Noah. The blessing of Shem was shared by Japheth who was to dwell in the tents of Shem.

In “White Boy Rick” we are introduced to Dawn having an African-American Ty lying on top of her being under­dressed, an embarrassing incident that serves to evoke the above story.

From Shem come the Semites, of course. Writer Bodie Hodge holds forth that: “Japheth has commonly been seen as the father of most European and northern Asian nations” (149). The Russians with their AK-47s would be descendants of Noah's son Japheth. Japheth means enlarge. The Semitic blessing is enlarged to include others from Japheth, integration of the two lines taking place, Japheth dwelling ultimately “in the tents of Shem.”

The servitude of Ham as passing to his youngest son Canaan also encompassed his son Cush, see Gen. 10:6. Cush is Hebrew for black, whose descendants settled in Africa. Writer Bodie Hodge (134) quotes “Bible Questions and Answers,” from The Golden Age (July 24, 1929): p. 702.

Question: Is there anything in the Bible that reveals the origin of the Negro?

Answer: It is generally believed that the curse which Noah pronounced upon Canaan was the origin of the Black race. Certain it is that when Noah said, “Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren,” he pictured the future of the Colored race.

Canaan is the youngest son of Ham carrying the curse on the whole family by a figure of speech called a synecdoche where part stands for the whole. (Jasher 73:35) “For the Lord our God gave Ham the son of Noah, and his children and all his seed, as slaves to the children of Shem and to the children of Japheth, and unto their seed after them for slaves, forever.” Our movie doesn't tackle race relations directly except when Curry says there's a difference between “black jail time” and “white jail time.” This discrimination is given a neutral value in the movie by relating it to the difference between two seemingly identical AK-47s except out­wardly for some surface feature.

Eventually Ricky is facing time. There are mitigating factors. He was seduced by Mrs. Curry, Prov. 6:23-26. He succumbed and lost his innocence, Prov. 6:27-29. How does that tally up with his drug offence? (Prov. 6:30-35) “Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore seven­fold; he shall give all the sub­stance of his house. But whoso commit­teth adultery with a woman lacketh under­standing: he that doeth it des­troyeth his own soul. A wound and dis­honour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. For jealousy is the rage of a man: there­fore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.” It wouldn't have been so bad had he dealt drugs to make ends meet for the family. After all, the FBI brought him into contact with the life and the opportunity. But he took advantage of his friend who was doing “black time,” to milk the black loneli­ness of his friend's wife in an adulterous affair. That can have enhanced repercussions à la (Gal. 6:7) “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for what­soever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Martin Luther King
Jr.Ricky got into an argument with Wershe Sr. about his junior dope business, like how was that any different from dad's gun business since they both sold to the same people? Dad replied that there was a second amendment guarantee allowing the possession of fire­arms, but the constitution said nothing similar about dope. So now we've got to be constitutional scholars to follow the plot. That brings us right back to the race question. To any reader's protest that should not we descendants of Japheth and/or Shem be willing to share some or all of our Noahic blessing with descendants of Ham, I refer you to Grace Goldin's Midrash on Ruth (36–7):

“You were too harsh with Orpah,” Ruth declared. “Had you but coaxed her as she dared you to She might have gone the difficult way with you.” “We are forbidden bribery, my Ruth,” Replied Naomi, marching steadily now, … “Since only those who come with extreme love For heaven and heavenly things, and love of God, Are welcome to be Jews.”

In practice we seem to be more Christian in our interpretation of the outcome of the drunken Noah incident—or maybe we're just oblivious to it—than are the Jews who are for­bidden bribery. At any event this movie calls into question Ricky's scholarly judgment for his engagement in sexual misadventure. The Bret Kavanaugh hearing has shown us that if he were to have engaged in sexual misadventure, he'd be disqualified from inter­preting the constitution for us. How­ever, the FBI was unable to cor­robor­ate his accuser's story, and for purposes of this review, we have movies (e.g.His Girl Friday”) where women do lie about a mashing incident that supposedly happened to them. We do, how­ever, have various cor­robor­ated incidents of sexual misadventure else­where. Consider our icon, as Kinky Friedman writes, (205, 209)

Martin Luther King was given to fooling around a bit, apparently, in his extra­marital area. So the [FBI] pursued him relentlessly and got his whole life on tape. They'd bug his hotel rooms when he was on the road and come up with some gem like: “Oh, Martin, your dick is so big!” Then they'd call his wife and play the tape into the phone.

The whole world remembers Martin Luther King for “I have a Dream.” Only J. Edgar Hoover and his pathetic acolytes would remember him for “Oh, Martin, your dick is so big!”

Perhaps it is MLK's neo-Jeffersonian interpretation of universal equality, which should be questioned.

Production Values

This bio, “” (2018) was directed by Yann Demange. It was written by Andy Weiss, Logan Miller and Noah Miller. It stars rookie Richie Merritt (as Wershe Jr.), Matthew McConaughey, Bel Powley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rory Cochrane and Brian Tyree Henry. They delivered some good acting. Richie Merritt and McConaughey as father and son are the central characters of the movie. Merritt in particular did a good job portraying a very complex character. Bruce Dern and the barely glimpsed Piper Laurie are Rick's long­suffering grand­parents. Jennifer Jason Leigh & Rory Cochrane play the case FBI agents. RJ Cyler as Rick's friend Boo, Brian Tyree Henry as a Narcotics Div. detective, and Eddie Marsan & Jonathan Majors as drug dealers round out the small parts.

MPAA rated it R for language through­out, drug content, violence, some sexual references, and brief nudity. It was filmed in Cleveland, Ohio, USA which didn't match a more populous Detroit. The music was a surprisingly good on-theme mix. A lot of dry humor was employed. The cinema­tog­raphy worked wonders with a gritty setting. The narration never seems to adjust to its harness. The years, though, flip by seamlessly.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I found the movie engaging, and I didn't expect any happy ending. It is what it is, which is a kid on the periphery of the drug culture and then getting sucked into it. Very sad, but some have fared worse.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Overall movie rating: three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

The Book of Jasher. Trans­lated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, WEB.

Friedman, Kinky. The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Print.

Goldin, Grace. Come Under the Wings, A Midrash on Ruth. Philadelphia: The Jewish Society of America, 1958, 1980 / 5740. Print.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.