Movie Magazine International

SLC Punk!

USA - 1999

Movie Review By Blue Velvet

The early to mid 1980's in America marked the prevalance of yuppies, Ronald Reagan's reign as president, and the growing underground punk scene. However, punk's infectious popularity hadn't quite reached the Mormon town of Salt Lake City, Utah in which director/writer James Merendino sets his new film, "SLC Punk!"

Matthew Lilliard stars as Stevo, an exceptionally bright recent college grad who devotes a season of his life to punk music, shows, and whatever else that comes along. Defying his wealthy parents, the un-punk Salt Lake City townsfolk, and followers of other sub-cultures, Stevo and his friends defend their right to a life of anarchy and punk in the Fall of 1985.

Although it looks electrifyingly vivid and moves vibrantly, "SLC Punk!" is not even halfway a comedy. When it's not trying too hard, the film scores some truly good laughs. In fact, much of the film's entertainment value comes from Stevo's passionate insightful narration on early punk bands, poseurs, punk's odd presence in Salt Lake City, and his rivalries with other tribes like the mods, the metalheads, and the rednecks. Colorful locals in crazed situations also make the film worthwhile. Yet the incessant boring acid trip babble, the celebrated baseball bat violence, and the watered down fairy tale drama may prompt some audience members to roll their eyes in disgust or boredom.

As a director, Merendino nails down some key technicalities like piecing together a solid cast, an amazing soundtrack, and a hell-bent rebellious concept. Having grown up punk and Catholic in Salt Lake City in the 80's, Merendino expresses well the fury of his outcast characters. However, the dialogue that binds those characters together comes off as awkward and inevitably annoying. But for alternative music lovers who can't stomach mainstream teen romantic comedies or repetetive slasher films, "SLC Punk!" at least offers a semi-funny nostalgic look at when old-school punk was completely new.

© 1999 - Blue Velvet - Air Date: 04/29/99

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