Owen Gleiberman
February 08, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

Slackers

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
86 minutes
Wide Release Date
02/01/02
performer
James King, Michael C. Maronna, Devon Sawa, Jason Schwartzman, Jason Segel
director
Dewey Nicks
distributor
Screen Gems Inc.
author
David H. Steinberg
genre
Comedy

We gave it a D+

Not another teen movie—please. If Jason Schwartzman had forced his agent at knifepoint to come up with a role that would squander the precocious, chewing-gum-on-the-wall, junior-Dustin Hoffman cachet that the actor built up in ”Rushmore,” the agent couldn’t have done much better than to get him cast in Slackers.

Schwartzman, flexing his beetle brows, plays a spiteful, charmless loser — a grotesque creep slouching under the weight of his backpack — who blackmails a carefree trio of exam cheaters into setting him up with the campus hottie. The movie doesn’t so much extend Schwartzman’s antic outsider persona from Rushmore as uglify it, reducing him to the ultimate Uncool Anti-WASP. At one point, he has to sponge down the aging ’50s Z-movie siren Mamie Van Doren and take a nibble of her pendulous freckled breast. (This is not a scene you want on your résumé.)

Slackers starts out looking as if it might be a smart satire of collegiate fraudulence, complete with convoluted Rube Goldberg schemes for faking blue-book mastery, but it sinks into the usual cafeteria goulash of fart jokes, masturbation jokes, and racist Japanese jokes, the bulk of them set to pointlessly ironic twee orchestral renditions of ”Baba O’Riley” and other rock chestnuts. D+

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