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SLACKER (director/writer: Richard Linklater; cinematographer: Lee Daniel; editor: Scott Rhodes; cast: Richard Linklater (Should Have Stayed at Bus Station), Rudy Basquez (Taxi Driver), Jean Caffeine (Roadkill), Jan Hockey (Jogger), Stephan Hockey (Running Late), Mark James (Hit-and-Run Son), Samuel Dietert (Grocery Grabber of Death’s Bounty), Bob Boyd (Officer Bozzio); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Richard Linklater; MGM Home Entertainment; 1991)
“The indie film has a fresh feel.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The 28-year-old filmmaker Richard Linklater (“Waking Life”/”Before Sunrise”/”Dazed and Confused”) shoots this plotless, freewheeling, documentary-style look of his hometown Austin, Texas. It’s about slackers (idlers who try to get by with doing as little work as possible and who are sympathetically looked upon by the director even if they are oddballs, deadbeats, and hustlers) who wander around the university area over a 24-hour period.

It opens in the morning with Linklater getting into a cab when arriving by plane in Austin and boring the driver with a rant about parallel realities, something the driver could care less about and never responds to. The philosopher fare when walking in the street discovers the dead body of a woman shopper in the gutter who was hit by a car, and the next character visited is that woman’s son who is arrested in his home by the police after he lights the candles on a alternative style altar. From hereon there are a series of unconnected vignettes where each character connects with someone else and goes off into a riff about what rocks their boat in an unending chain that continues with the next character taking over.

The subculture characters covered include a JFK conspiracy theory buff, an older anarchist, a member of a struggling band called The Ultimate Losers, a twitchy girl trying to hawk Madonna’s Pap smear that includes one of her pubic hairs, and an assortment of street philosophers talking about such things as the “greenhouse effect” and that spending time at a lake is pre-meditated fun because you have to bring along suntan lotion and an insecticide. Once in a while a line pops up that catches your attention, like one character saying with conviction “there’s too much evidence against uniqueness.”

The indie film has a fresh feel and compellingly catches the slacker mood leaving one feeling slightly bemused at the lengths these oddballs will go to live a lazy life of leisure. It’s quirky, highly entertaining and appealing to those who can somehow appreciate the mind sets of these New Ager hippies.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”