Movie Magazine International

Slaves to the Underground

USA - 1997

Movie Review By Andrea Chase

In "Slaves to the Underground." interesting ideas are brought up and then discarded. Like the revisionist take on "The Graduate" wherein Dustin Hoffman is a proto-slacker stalker. It's food for thought before disappearing into oblivion. It's followed up by Ted Koppel hair jokes and jabs at slimy record company executives. Can we say lame?

There's politics, too, but of a particularly schizophrenic nature as when the call for universal respect and an end to violence manifests as the guerilla takeover of a right-wing blowhard's radio call-in show. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy seeing tape over the fascist's mouth, I'm just saying that the message here is shall we say muddled.

And speaking of muddled, there's what in this film passes for a heroine, Shelley, played with all the raw passion of a dead oyster by Molly Gross. This amoral bit of trash is a mystery not because she wouldn't know a real emotion if it walked up and introduced itself to her, but because everyone in this flick wants to jump her bones. She's sulky, she looks sulky, she moves sulky, she breathes sulky. The shots of her more intimate moments prove that even in the bedroom, with boy or girlfriend, she's sulky. What's the attraction? Is it a gen-x slacker kind of charisma that is beyond the comprehension of anyone over 30?

Shelley wanders through life with little direction and less focus leaving in her wake a wide swath of emotional devastation. The people in her toxic orbit pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and bemoan the fact that if only they had been more supportive of her, she wouldn't have had to destroy their lives. Then they pine for her. Huh?

Somewhere in the midst of this psychobabble and wanna-be p.c. subtext should be the story of an all-girl band, some people publishing 'zines, and the culture of the Pacific Northwest. But all we get from "Slaves to the Underground" is that it rains a lot and people are lethargic even when they're ripping off convenience stores, trashing clubs, and beating the crap out of each other in the name of creating a better world.

© 1997 Andrea Chase Air Date: 11/12/97

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