Film Commentary [12-9-99]
Punks in Utah - - SLC Punk
Genre: Comedy
Grade = A-



SLC Punk!" tells the story of Stevo (Mathew Lillard-Scream, Hackers) and Heroin Bob (Michael Goorjian - Party of Five) , two Salt Lake City punk rockers in the mid-1980s, and how they spend their days debating anarchy, fighting with the other ‘groups’ in the City, fighting with the cops, doing drugs, partying, and trying to destroy "the system" from within.

The film is narrated documentary style by Stevo, who explains the social set up of the City and his little group. In one of the early hysterical scenes, Stevo's ex-hippie ex-Woodstock now corporate attorney father (Christopher McDonald - Fatal Instinct) sees his lifestyle as a rite of passage similar to his own back in the good old days and urges him to attend Harvard University and eventually its law school like himself. (Note: all attorneys in movies attend either Harvard or Yale. Despite the fact that these are two of the most selective law schools in the world and you have to compete against all foreign applicants as well to get selected). Stevo begins a tirade of how his parents are hypocrites to their beliefs, that he is not going to Harvard, but going to the University of Utah where he plans to get a 4.0 in “damage” and with middle fingers pointing telling them that he is over 18 and fuck you. “I didn’t sell-out, I bought-in. Remember that,” his father responds. “He’s going to be a great lawyer” he whispers to the mother.

Heroin Bob is equally hard core. But, although his name is Heroin, he does not do drugs. I fact, he even refuses to take medicine. This becomes a problem when his hand gets infected and he ends up in the hospital for a month (they eventually name the infection after him). From Stevo you learn the intricacies of buying beer in Utah. You must buy it at a state store. Unfortunately, all the store clerks are off duty policemen who immediately call a squad car to follow and arrest them. The alternative is to drive to Wyoming, where they are looked upon not as freaks, but friggin aliens. Other incidents include stealing a car and then failing to sink it in the Great Salt Lake because it floats in the high salinity, attacking rednecks, a punk taking too much acid and attacking his mother thinking she is a demon.

Written and directed by James Merendino. This is a hysterically funny film that combines slapstick and intellectual comedy with kinetic direction and camera work. The film is refreshing as it also delves into the philosophical underpinnings of the punk-anarchist political philosophy (although I suspect only Stevo is capable of understanding it, as all the other punks are not exactly the intellectual type). You do not get your standard Hollywood left-wing socialist lecture. Although there is a little excess baggage, such as where Heroin Bob goes to visit his crazy father, overall the film is one of the best this year with although a predictable ending, it was handled well.


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