Slackers (January 31/02)
Though it's nowhere near as bad as last week's execrable A Walk to Remember, Slackers is nonetheless quite mediocre and should enjoy a mildly successful opening weekend before sinking into oblivion.
Jason Schwartzman stars as Ethan (or as he prefers to be known, "Cool Ethan"), an underachieving loser - though unlike his Max Fischer character from Rushmore, this underachieving loser isn't in the least bit lovable. He's actually quite creepy, due to his obsessive crush on a fellow student named Angela (he's turned a collection of her strewn hairs into a "hair doll," which he cuddles up with). He enlists the services of three campus cheaters, led by Final Destination's Devon Sawa, to help him get closer to Angela. But little does he realize that Sawa is falling for Angela, and vice versa.
Slackers clearly wants to be an Animal House for the new millennium, but without a single compelling character or even a coherent storyline, it fails on virtually every level it attempts. The first hour of the film, despite the introduction of the gossamer-thin plot, primarily consists of unrelated skits. Watch as Cool Ethan gives a sponge bath to an old lady! See one of Sawa's slacker buds play a game of penis puppetry! Finally, as the film begins to wind down, it abandons any pretense of being a comedy and turns into drama as Ethan and Sawa fight over Angela.
It's not all bad, though. Schwartzman, though he's way over-the-top, seems to be having a great time and his kinetic energy is fun to watch. He's also responsible for the two best moments in the film; the first when he sings a hilariously bad love song to Angela, and the second when he sings (yep, again) a downbeat ditty detailing his unrequited love. It's not surprising that Schwartzman's in a semi-successful band - he seems to have a real knack for music.
Slackers could have been worse (the first American Pie immediately springs to mind), but given the otherwise likable cast, it should have been a lot better.