Higher education just hit a new low
I think we've finally reached the end of the teen movie craze. So many bombs yet Hollywood kept cranking them out in hopes they'd stumble across another American Pie. I am not a teen movie connoisseur, but I will admit that I usually do find the genre funny. Slackers is a lightweight movie about those fantastic college years that we all wished happened like studios show us. Just when you thought you've seen it all, they find a way to surprise us with something outrageously stupid and/or gross. Take off your thinking caps and prepare to enter the realm of teen movie college.
Facts of the Case
At Holden University, Dave (Devon Sawa, Final Destination, Idle Hands), Sam (Jason Segal, Freaks and Geeks), and Jeff (Michael Maronna, Home Alone 1 and 2) are the master scammers. They haven't studied a day in their life, and thus they must continually find new ways to cheat on midterms and finals to pass their classes. Finally, it's senior year and there are only 48 days left until freedom. This troublesome trio is both excited and nervous about the future, but they plan on enjoying their final days to the fullest.
It's another beautiful day at Holden when the trio sets out on their latest scam: to help Jeff pass his Physics midterm. Dave is the leader of this group and it's his duty to be "invisible" and actually infiltrate the midterm. All is going well until Dave unknowingly takes Cool Ethan's (Jason Schwartzman, Rushmore) seat next to the gorgeous Angela (James King, Blow, Pearl Harbor).
Unbeknownst to Dave—and everyone else—Cool Ethan is madly in lust with Angela and is very, very, very mad that Dave has taken "his" seat next to "his" woman. Cool Ethan fumes as Dave, trying to be invisible, carries out the scam to cheat on the test. The scam goes perfectly for Dave until he makes a critical error: enamored by Angela's beauty, he leaves his name and phone number behind on a copy of the test in hopes that she will want to call him. Angela is not interested and leaves behind the number for Cool Ethan to find.
Cool Ethan is anything but cool. He's a psychotic, scary, obsessive, overly confident geek who is stalking Angela. He quickly puts two and two together and realizes that Dave was cheating. Cool Ethan then confronts the scamming trio and agrees to not turn them in if they will set him up with Angela. Realizing they have no choice, Dave, Jeff, and Sam agree to the proposal.
And college mayhem ensues as they three guys attempt to get Angela to go out with Cool Ethan. It is a very difficult proposition, as she has no idea who this guy is. Soon, though, Cool Ethan begins showing up at places where Angela volunteers as she learns who he is: a weird little geek. She wants nothing to do with him, but she politely agrees to be his friend.
In true movie fashion, it turns out that Angela is smitten by Dave. She's getting that special little tingle and she wants to hook up with Dave and not Ethan. Soon, Cool Ethan discovers this problem and all hell breaks loose! Will Cool Ethan turn in the scammers? Will Dave, Jeff, and Sam be able to set Cool Ethan up with Angela? Will Dave and Angela hook up? Who will live happily ever after?
The ensemble group of actors for this movie was well cast and fit into their respective roles quite well. Everyone did a great job with the limited material of the script, and first-time movie director Dewey Nicks nicely highlights their performances. There are two individuals that I believe deserve special mention for their work in the movie. First, on the shock front, is Reanna, as played by Laura Prepon (Donna from That '70s Show). Being a fan of that TV show, I was surprised by Laura's character in the movie; it's such a delightful 180 degrees from Donna. Although her screen time is limited, being Angela's roommate, she practically steals every scene she's in. And then there's the absolutely fantastic performance by Jason Schwartman as Cool Ethan. Jason turns in a stellar performance as the über-geek who just doesn't understand how irritating and annoying he is. You absolutely cringe every time he is on screen because you just don't want to know what he's going to do next. He treats this silly material as seriously as he did the script of Rushmore.
Slackers is presented in either anamorphic widescreen or full frame—both on one side of this dual layered disc. As any intelligent individual should, the full frame was completely ignored for the joy of a very nice widescreen transfer. For a movie that did not do well, Columbia gave us a high quality transfer that is free of any defects. The colors are accurate and rich, there is no edge enhancement or artifacting, and the overall print is very clean. Nicely done! The audio is also a very nice, though not completely outstanding, Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Dialogue is nicely presented from the center channel and the rest of the track is nicely spaced through the remaining channels. Being a teen comedy, there is little use for the subwoofer and surrounds, but they do get some use. Musical cues are nicely presented with some power from the sub.
This is a bare-bones disc with the only special feature being a bevy of theatrical trailers: Slackers, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Not Another Teen Movie, Riding in Cars with Boys, and The Forsaken. As far as the trailers, I got a huge laugh from the "restricted audience" Teen Movie trailer and am considering giving that one a rental. Wow! An extraneous trailer on a DVD might have finally worked on me. That's a first.
The Rebuttal Witness
This movie was an obvious box office flop, as it was released in February 2002 and now it's already on DVD just three short months later. However, I must admit that I am surprised it did so poorly as there is some truly funny stuff going on in this movie. It's not a great movie by any means, but it's funny and the time goes by very quickly. As I alluded to earlier, there are some new gags in this movie that you haven't seen before: the puppet gag, though brief, is almost worth the price of admission alone. And, if you have time, stick around through the credits for a brief extra scene at the end. I only caught it because I enjoyed the song during the closing credits.
You didn't see this one in the theaters, but go ahead and give this one a spin now. It may not be worthy of a full-out purchase, but the clean transfer and fun script certainly make Slackers a definite rental at your friendly neighborhood mega-rental chain. Believe it or not, I would have actually enjoyed a few additional bonus features for the movie—maybe a commentary, deleted scenes, or blooper footage.
Any charges that may be lurking in the shadows are dropped. May your hair doll never come unraveled. Case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
• Theatrical Trailers for: Slackers, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Not Another Teen Movie, Riding in Cars with Boys, and The Forsaken
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