Sue (Mackenzie Davis) and Bobby (Jeremy Allen White) gotta get out of this place. They’re both smart kids, but stuck in a bad town. A town where the sun don’t shine and the only thing to do is get into mischief and trouble. Good thing is that they both have been accepted to excellent colleges and it seems to be their ticket to freedom and a better life. They’re both incredibly smart and love to debate trivial things — there’s a great scene at the beginning of the film where they talk Whataburger’s biscuits and gravy, if the meal should be plural or just biscuit and gravy since it’s, well, just one biscuit being eaten. Their chatter is endearing.
Before they can head off to school, trouble in paradise smacks them right in the face. BJ (Logan Huffman), Sue’s kind of boyfriend, is a self-serving idiot who steals a lot of money from a bad man named Giff. Just about the only character development we get from BJ is that he’s a sonofabitch. Maybe he’s lonely — after all, he’s the only one of the three not going to college and will be stuck in this town everyone’s trying to leave — or maybe he’s losing his mind from boredom, but there’s no denying he’s a real piece of work.
Before you know it, Giff has BJ, Sue and Bobby in his pocket for taking his money (the latter are innocent but unfortunately guilty by association). Giff gives them an an ultimatum: die faster than disco did, or steal more money from an even bigger, badder boss who goes by the name of Big Red. While Big Red is known throughout the town as a ruthless man, nobody has seen him before.
There are two problems in We Gotta Get Out of This Place. The first is trust. Sue and Bobby know they can’t trust BJ because he’s off his rocker. They could steal the money and get out of town, but then they’ll be looking over their shoulder for the rest of their lives. If they get the money for Giff to make things even, they know he’s going to kill them — after all, he needs someone to blame for stealing Big Red’s money. The second, which is the most problematic, is everyone in We Gotta Get Out of This Place is looking for a way out of town — some selfish, and some to better themselves. Both are not working in anyone’s favor.
The cast is really well-rounded. Giff is played by Mark Pellegrino, who took this character and made it his own — he’s menacing, hilarious and not afraid to die. This is the best villain I’ve seen on screen since Heath Ledger’s Joker because he takes nothing seriously, not even when a gun is pointed in his face with the trigger locked and loaded. There’s just something awesome about a bad guy who cuts loose and steals the show, and Pellegrino does just that. Sue and Bobby’s chemistry is very endearing. These two love each other, it’s unspoken but so beautiful. When it comes to surviving, these two would do almost anything for each other.
We Gotta Get Out of This Place is screenwriter Dutch Southern’s first produced script, and please God, don’t let it be his last. From the grimy atmosphere of the town, to the bravura nature of his raw and untouchable dialogue — he’s a wizard of words and mood, that’s for sure. Southern has a lot of potential and is about to shake things up in Hollywood.