Directed by: Dewey Nicks
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, James King, Devon Sawa, Robert B. Martin Jr., Mamie Van Doren
There was me -- that is, one lone critic -- and a tolerant friend sitting in the otherwise empty Sunday matinee of Slackers, trying to make up our minds as to whether anything even remotely positive could be said about the movie. The closest we could come was, "Well, it's only 87 minutes long." And, while it's more gross and hateful than Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, it's not quite as fantastically awful. (Note to Screen Gems, who released these five reels of runaway Thanksgiving dinner: You're going to have to try harder to outdistance 20th Century Fox and Kung Pow to earn the coveted Pootie Tang award.) Yep, it's yet another teen comedy ... well, sort of. The studio executives who gave this the go-ahead apparently thought that setting it in college and featuring college seniors (upping the basic character age to 21) moved it out of the realm of teen comedy. This is about on par with thinking Mr. Ed was a marked departure from Francis the Talking Mule because it featured a talking horse instead of a jackass. Make no mistake, this is just another Not Another Teen Movie -- only it dares to be puerile in marginally different ways. How different are those ways? Here's the plot: Three friends who are about to graduate from college on the strength of four years of clever -- albeit implausible -- cheating are blackmailed by a creepy nerd into getting him the girl of his dreams. This fails because not only does the girl fall in love with one of the cheating trio, but the creepy nerd in this case transcends every known level of creepy to become disturbingly loathsome. The character, Ethan -- played by Jason Schwartzman, who looks for all the world like a knock-off of Jason Biggs with caterpillars for eyebrows -- is no mere lovestruck nerd, but a card-carrying psychotic who has a fetishistic doll made from the object of his "affection's'" hair. He seems as much to want to torture her as anything else. It's the sort of thing that John Waters could have made blasphemously funny, but which no one here can make anything other than ... well, creepy. When this fellow settles down on the sofa with his hair doll and begins engaging in God knows what beneath the blanket, you're truly grateful that the scene quickly cuts away. This is a fair barometer of what passes for funny in Slackers. Want more? OK, how about the spectacle of 71-year-old former exploitation sexpot Mamie Van Doren baring her breasts so Ethan can be caught giving her a sponge bath? If that doesn't do it for you, how about a character who sings a duet of "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" with his penis sock puppet? Or what about ... ah, to hell with it. It's just another bad teen -- or slightly post-teen -- comedy (whether it be a horse of a jackass) trying to out-gross-out the equally bad teen comedies that came before it. Go see Gosford Park or The Count of Monte Cristo or Amelie or Lord of the Rings, instead. Even if you've seen them before, your time will be far better spent.