Director Dewey Nicks refuses to let Slackers be seen as just another teen movie, which means he can be forgiven for frequently pandering to fans of the gross-out comedy (see the penis/sock scene). The film’s opening sequence is both lyrical and quaint, a curious evocation of a kind of college life free of over-eager jocks, big-bosomed cheerleaders and their pom-poms. A trio of friends freely turns a track team’s morning jog into a cover for a complex heist. While they may have control over the school’s electrical power and supply of blue test booklets, the group’s monopoly threatens to crumble when Dave (Devon Sawa) is caught cheating by the slimy Ethan (Jason Schwartzman). A blackmailed Dave must now snag Ethan a girlfriend in order to evade expulsion. Complicating matters: Dave falls for Ethan’s object of affection, Angela (James King). Dewey has fun with the screenplay’s hurried pacing and old-fashioned revenge plot but the film works best when being deadpan rather than runaway absurd. In the film’s best sequence, Dave’s slow-motion walk through an inspirational school banner is set to a choir’s hysterical rendition of Ace of Base’s “The Sign.” Slackers may be a difficult film to hate but it’s an even more impossible one to like. The film is quirky for the sake of being quirky, a fatal flaw considering that so many of the film’s comedic flourishes rest entirely on Schwartzman’s ability to unpredictably freak out at the drop of a hat. His is certainly a performance only a mother could unconditionally love.
- Screen Gems
- 87 min
- Dewey Nicks
- David H. Steinberg
- Devon Sawa, Jason Schwartzman, James King, Jason Segel, Michael C. Maronna, Laura Prepon
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