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The film opens as we see a young George Jung (Johnny Depp) and his parents Ray Liotta and Rachel Griffiths. His mother is constantly complaining about no money and keeps on badgering Liotta about what they are going to do. The young George knows then that he will never let himself get in this position.
Depp (George) moves to southern California with his friend "Tuna" and they get a beachside apartment and make friends with all the locals. they don't want to get real jobs so Tuna comes up with the idea of selling pot.
They meet Derek Foreal (Paul Reubens -Pee-Wee Herman) and discover he is the main dealer in the area. Together with Pee-Wee they make a lot of money selling to all the kids in the area. Their other friend who goes to college back in Boston tells them that there is a great shortage of quality pot in his area so with the help of Depp's stewardess girlfriend, they start bringing the drugs to Boston.
The demand is very high now and they decide to start buying the drugs directly from Mexico. They meet a few Mexican druglords and set up a system for importing the drugs via small airplanes.
Everything is going just great and they even buy a mansion in Acapulco and everyone including Tuna and Pee-Wee are living it up down there.
Depp brings his girlfriend (Franka Potente) to meet his parents but she gets a nosebleed in the middle of dinner and has to leave.
Depp eventually gets busted in Chicago and will be sentenced for two years. Franka tells him she can't wait that long since she is dying of cancer. Depp skips bail to care for her but she eventually dies.
While hiding from the authorities he visits his parents back in Boston. He is having a heart to heart with his father when suddenly the police show up. His mother has turned him in.
He is sentenced to 3 years in a federal prison. While in prison he meets Diego who is involved in the cocaine trade in Columbia.
Depp is now determined to change from pot to cocaine and when he gets out of prison he heads down to colombia to meet up with Diego who in turn sets him up with Pablo Escobar.
Depp (with the help of his main middleman, Pee-Wee) becomes Pablo's #1 importer. Depp tells us that at one time, 85% of the cocaine in the US came through him. Depp sets up an account with a bank in Panama where he hides all his wealth.
Depp is living higher on the hog than ever and even marries a Colombian beauty (Penelope Cruz). He brings his parents to his southern California mansion and while his father is impressed, his mother isn't.
Eventually Diego is so pissed that Depp has kept the identity of Pee-Wee a secret that Depp gets shot during a drug deal because Diego is too preoccupied with Pee-Wee's identity.
Depp finally tells him and next thing you know, Diego double crosses him and deals directly with Pee-Wee, keeping Depp out of the loop.
Depp is pissed and quits the business. When he tries to get his money out of the bank in Panama he learns that the government has taken all of it.
A year or two later, Depp and Cruz now have a beautiful daughter. Things don't go so well as Depp has a hard time breaking the coke habit and their life starts crumbling. At one point Cruz goes into a tirade about money and starts arguing with Depp about money in front of their daughter, just like his mother did with his father 30 years earlier.
Cruz throws Depp a birthday party and invites many of his old drug friends. Pee-Wee is there and tells Depp that Diego eventually double crossed him and kept him out of the loop too.
Penelope, never being able to break the coke habit breaks out a huge dish of cocaine and suddenly the FBI shows up and busts everyone.
Depp cuts a deal and goes to prison in return for his wife and daughter to remain free. His daughter means everything to him and his only regret is that he can't be with her.
Eventually he gets out of prison but while there, his wife has divorced him and has custody of his daughter. He slowly starts getting to know his daughter and walks her to and from school but that's about it. She tells him that her one dream is to go to California.
Having no money anymore, he makes a few calls and sets up one last big score. He tells his daughter to wait for him after school in a few days and he will take her to California.
Unfortunately, he is once again double crossed and when he thinks he just had a big payday, he instead is busted one more time and gets sent to prison until 2015.
We then see a very pitiful view of his daughter, waiting for him to arrive and take her to California.
In prison he slowly goes crazy thinking about how he let his daughter down. In the final scene while tending to the prison garden, a guard calls him over to see a visitor. There standing in front of him is his now grown up, very beautiful daughter. They talk a little and then have a long tearful hug. Suddenly the guard calls again and we realize that he is just imagining this.
The film ends as the guard walks Depp out of the garden. Depp is now just a crazy old man.
The final image is a photo of the real George Jung and we learn that his daughter has never made contact with him.
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