What’s shocking about White Boy Rick is not the lower-middle class family drama of 1980s eastside Detroit; it’s not the violence (relatively mild for a drug film); it’s not the depiction of a young girl becoming addicted to drugs and then forced through withdrawal and recovery by her father and brother; it’s not the apathy of the FBI using a 14-year-old for their own ends with little regard for his life or future. No, what’s shocking is that the movie is kind of funny. It’s hard to say that it’s really funny because all that other stuff’s happening too, and the laughs are too few and far between, but... it's funny.
Then again, it’s only half-supposed to be a comedy. You get the feeling that maybe it tested poorly in early viewings, perhaps due to the largely unnecessary and aforementioned withdrawal scenes, and the general bleakness that is the landscape of this movie. ‘Hey fellas, audiences find this kind of depressing. Let’s add a few jokes and market it as a crime comedy-drama.
It has funny moments, but there’s little that’s amusing about this tale.