Movie Review #765 | Alexander Diminiano
Directed by Richard Linklater. Writer: Richard Linklater. Produced by Richard Linklater for Detour Filmproduction. Starring Richard Linklater, Stephan Hockey, Jennifer Schaudies, Brecht Andersch, Tom Pallotta, Jerry Deloney, Debbie Pastor, Abra Moore, Sarah Harmon, Mark Quirk, Kim Krizan, Annick Souhami, Nolan Morrison, Kendal Smith, and Greg Ward. Premiered at New York New Directors and New Films Festival on March 22, 1991. Distributed by Orion Classics in wide release on July 5, 1991. Also released by the Criterion Collection in 2004 and 2013. Rated R: language. Runs 97 minutes. (DVD version runs 100 minutes.)
“Slacker” opens with a guy rambling on and on and on about his dreams and how his mind works to a cab driver. The cab driver isn’t paying a damn bit of attention to him, but he just goes on and on and on. And we’re paying attention to him. Why? Because the dude’s hilarious. He’s played by Richard Linklater, who not only acted but also directed and wrote the movie. At this point in the movie, Linklater seems as if he’s giving his usual effort in all three areas. Unfortunately, as we realize less than thirty minutes later, that’s not really the case.
Linklater is a fellow who can get away with a movie where people do nothing but talk the entire time. Proof: “Before Sunrise”, et seq. But “Before Sunrise” had a plot. That’s where “Slacker” falls way short. If this had a string of plot, it could have been a comedy much like Kevin Smith’s “Clerks.”, except starring a cast of characters who see no point in having a part-time job as a clerk, let alone any job. It’s not that the actual effort feels incoherent, there is absolutely no plot in sight. The characters feel as if cut and pasted into the story. They’re all college dropouts living in Austin, Texas, and we just shift from one to the next at random. Their “escapades” become very boring very quickly, and we start to roll our eyes at these people when they have the nerve to claim they’ve had a long day all the time. These are unemployed nobodies should just be homeless beggars and see what life’s got in store for them then. Maybe they’d be as bored as we are with the movie, should they be found on the sidewalk holding up cardboard signs.
“Slacker” is, supposedly, a comedy. In truth, it’s much easier to leer at than it is to laugh at. It doesn’t take long before its spark is all gone, but then again, there really wasn’t much of it to begin with. Oh well. I guess I should have known that the title would have been descriptive of the effort Linklater put into this movie. ✴