[Screen It]


(1999) (Matthew Lillard, Michael Goorjian) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Extreme Moderate Extreme Minor Heavy
Moderate None Minor Heavy Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
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Heavy Moderate Mild Moderate Extreme

Comedy: A young man who sees himself as an anarchist takes the audience on a guided tour of his life and Salt Lake City's nonconformist society.
Stevo (MATTHEW LILLARD) is a self-proclaimed anarchist and punk rocker living in Salt Lake City in the mid 1980's. A recent college graduate and usually accompanied by his Mohawk- topped best friend, "Heroin" Bob (MICHAEL GOORJIAN), so nicknamed not because of drug use, but due to an intense fear of needles, Stevo spends his time getting into fights with rednecks - - their mortal enemies -- and complaining about punk poseurs and other would-be nonconformists.

Serving as our narrator and guide to the underbelly of life found in the dark corners of his hometown, Stevo introduces us to various characters in his life. They include Mike (JASON SEGEL), a geeky looking guy with a violent temper and a short fuse and Sean (DEVON SAWA), a guy who sells acid.

There's also Mark (TIL SCHWEIGER), another part-time drug dealer who happens to be independently wealthy but paranoid, and Sandy (JENNIFER LIEN), his casual girlfriend with whom he gets high and has casual sex. Then there's his divorced father (CHRISTOPHER McDONALD), a former hippie who now wants his well-educated son to follow in his footsteps and study law at Harvard.

Yet, Stevo's more concerned with being a nonconformist who believes in anarchy than selling out to the system. Even so, when Bob suddenly gets a girlfriend, Trish (ANNABETH GISH) and he himself meets Brandy (SUMMER PHOENIX), Stevo begins to question his self-styled world and close circle of friends.

The rebellious punk lifestyle may draw some teens to it, as might Matthew Lillard, but it's unlikely this film will be a major draw for kids.
For pervasive language, drug use, violent antisocial behavior and some sexuality.
Considering the main characters and their attitudes and behavior, it's doubtful many parents -- if any -- would consider any of them to be good role models.


OUR TAKE: 2.5 out of 10
Maybe it's because humans keep their offspring around for so long compared to other animals. Maybe it's due to the influence of the media and entertainment. Maybe none of that's true and it's just a fact of growing up. For whatever reason, kids get rebellious in their teenage years with some not having yet outgrown that after entering their twenties.

Whether it's radical clothes, a defiant attitude or even piercing odd parts of their bodies, kids rebel to show that they've had enough with their "square" parental units. Our parents did it when they were teens, we did it at the same age, and today's kids will do it. As such, each passing generation forgets that they participated in such craziness and thus acts completely shocked by how their kids -- or all kids overall -- are acting and dressing.

If there's one particular "philosophy" or lifestyle that most upsets parents, it's the punk movement. You know, the look that's personified by multicolored hair -- often spiked or even cut into a Mohawk -- as well as chains, some body piercing and odd clothing choices. Mostly inspired by the punk rock movement that erupted out of London in the late '70's and swept across the "pond" to infiltrate the American youth, the look is quite startling -- to those who've gone through the "squaring" process -- but is quite understandable and acceptable to much of today's youth.

If punk rock and the stereotypical image of socially conservative Salt Lake City don't come to mind as elements that would appear together, let alone in a film, than you're probably not alone. After all, few would confuse punk rock poster boys Sid Vicious or Johnny Rotten with Utah favorite son Donny Osmond. That said, every type of music and its flow down attributes have some sort of following in nearly every city and "SLC Punk!" takes a look at that musical form as it appeared to teens in the land of Brigham Young during the mid '80's.

As our always philosophizing protagonist immediately tells us, being an anarchist in Salt Lake City in 1985 was no easy task. That's certainly not all he tells us in this highly frenetic but extremely disjointed film. About as episodic and structure impaired as they come -- like any good anarchist would appreciate -- this aggressive film -- that never makes much sense -- hasn't a prayer of playing outside its limited target audience.

As flippant and rebellious as the characters it presents, the picture is filled to the brim with annoying quick-cut camera and editing tricks that immediately wear out their welcome the second time they're used. It also contains a great deal of cumbersome voice over narration that's a sure sign of taking the easy way out of telling a story, but writer/director James Merendino ("Witchcraft 4") goes even further by continually having the narrator break the "fourth wall" and directly address the audience.

While that device can be effective and fun when handled correctly (such as in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and in the old TV show "Moonlighting" where characters occasionally did that while also stating that they solved certain problems during the commercial break), here it only becomes more annoying every time it's deployed.

The bigger problem, however, is that the story simply flips and flops its way around like a fish on dry land and neither it nor the characters experience much development. Sure, the main character eventually sees that his way of thinking about the world and himself is wrong and finally undergoes a change, but in doing so proves he's just as bad as the poseurs he earlier ridiculed.

Stevo never is a true punker -- which is typified by him studying pre-law in college, something we never see but clearly hear about -- and by the time he finally comes to that realization, what little admiration you may have had for the guy sticking to his guns -- no matter how badly aimed they may have been -- is instantly shattered.

All of his voice over dialogue seems too stilted to be real, and sounds more like what would come from a screenwriter's imagination and keyboard than a real punk rocker. As such, we never completely buy into his rebellious posturing since he never seems to fully believe or live it himself.

Playing the blue-haired anarchist, actor Matthew Lillard ("She's All That," "Scream") continues his string of playing unlikable sorts and simply takes this character to the next level of that. While he does have a certain larger than life and charismatic on-screen persona, Lillard doesn't give Stevo enough of a push in any direction to make him particularly compelling, threatening, disgusting or even oddly likeable (as compared with, say, Malcolm McDowell in " A Clockwork Orange").

Besides Lillard, Til Schweiger ("The Replacement Killers") gets the next best flamboyant role as the sometimes paranoid orphan with a penchant for outrageous behavior. Meanwhile, Michael Goorjian ("Hard Rain") is fitfully funny as Heroin Bob, a guy scared to death of needles, although most of the best humor related to him comes early on. The rest of the performances, including a humorous bit part by Christopher McDonald, as well as from Devon Sawa, Annabeth Gish and Summer Phoenix are decent but hardly memorable.

To the film's benefit, it does contain a few funny moments, such as a flashback of Stevo -- sporting a foot-high, blue-dyed Mohawk -- arguing with his formerly hip, but now square parents as they give him a "we love and support you, but..." talk, and another where Stevo and his oddly dressed pals make a liquor run to the land of cowboys -- Wyoming -- where they pretend to be from England to be accepted.

The best, but rather brief scene, however, comes from a moment where Stevo, Bob and Mark anxiously wait for the stolen car they've just ditched to sink out of sight, only to realize it won't due to the extreme salinity and subsequent buoyant qualities of the Great Salt Lake.

Unfortunately, such moments are few and far between in this film that despite appearing to zip along, seemingly drags on for much longer than its near one hundred minute runtime. Had the film jettisoned the "in your face" narration (or simply made it funnier) and the annoying camera moves, and patched up its overall episodic nature, then the film might have been more enjoyable.

While such an anti-structure nature might seem appropriate for the film's theme, and its target audience might not mind such antics, the rest of the moviegoing population will, thus ensuring that this punk of a movie will quickly be driven out of town. Although it has its moments, for the most part the film is more annoying than entertaining. For that reason, we give "SLC Punk!" a 2.5 out of 10.

Here's a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated film. Profanity is extreme with at least 118 "f" words and a great deal of other words and phrases. Several characters are drug dealers, and we see them and others occasionally doing drugs (some intentional, some not), while others drink and smoke throughout the movie.

Antisocial violence also occurs during the movie, with several fights featuring people beating and hitting others with baseball bats and/or fists (occasionally with bloody results) and two characters fight with police. That behavior, the defiant and anarchistic beliefs and the punk rocker attire may also prove to be imitative to some teens who are itching to rebel against their parents or other authority figures.

Some sexually related talk occurs, as do several sexual encounters, some of which include movement and sounds and some brief, partial nudity is also seen. Since all of the above is made to look cool and/or funny (despite most of the characters' rejection of it by the story's end), you may want to take a closer look at the listed content should any impressionable viewers in your home wish to see this film.

  • Some young men drink beer.
  • We see Bob asleep with a beer can in his hand.
  • Bob's nickname is "Heroin Bob" -- not because he does heroin, but because he is terrified of needles.
  • Bob badgers Stevo to "lay off the acid" and tells him all the bad things about using drugs.
  • We see Sean selling acid to others and then are told that he put the leftovers in his pockets and then ran through some sprinklers, causing all of it to dissolve and be absorbed through his skin. We then see that he's hallucinating.
  • We see Stevo holding a bottle in a brown paper bag, and later he drinks a beer.
  • Mark -- who's reportedly something of a part-time drug dealer -- sells pot at a party where people also have drinks and Stevo smokes a joint.
  • Later, someone gives Stevo some pot in a bag and we then see Mark smoking a joint.
  • As Stevo says (in voice-over) that he and Mark drove around and got "stoned" while Bob drank in the back seat, we see them smoking joints and Bob drinking in a car.
  • People have drinks at a party.
  • Stevo and his pals drive across state lines to buy beer and we see a lot of that and other liquor in a liquor store.
  • We see Stevo's father and some woman having drinks in a bar.
  • We see Stevo and Bob in a "head shop" run by a woman who sells bongs, etc... and drug-related magazines ("High Times," etc...).
  • Stevo and his father have wine with a restaurant meal.
  • Stevo says (in voice-over) that he and Sandy "dropped acid" and we then see a montage of them being high.
  • Stevo goes to another guy's house where that guy -- a hippie -- says he's been trying to get stoned from pot smoke wafting about the room, but that it hasn't happened yet.
  • We see a flashback where Mike, being very drunk, bashes the windows of a bunch of cars.
  • People drink at a party, including Bob who drinks from a bottle (he appears ready to get sick from doing so) and Trish has a martini. Another person there gives him some pills, stating that they're vitamins when in fact they're Percodan. As a result, the combination kills him.
  • In a flashback, a young Bob tells Stevo that they should be going to parties, "getting drunk and getting laid."
  • Bob's hand is quite bloody after punching a mirror (and we also see the blood-soaked rag around his hand). Much later at a doctor's office, a doctor removes that rag and finds an untreated and highly infected wound (that's black and green pus-filled). We then see a needle (shot) go into Bob's arm at the doctor's office.
  • In a partially imagined scene, we see Sean's legs (stripped of any skin for demonstration purposes) that show the underlying bloody-looking muscles, etc...
  • Mark tells the story of his family dying in a plane crash (of which he managed to survive) and of his mother's head flying toward him and seeing other body parts (we only hear the story and don't see anything).
  • A man's mouth and nose are very bloody after Stevo pummels him.
  • We see the body of a person who's just died, but beyond being dead, it's not gross or gory (and in fact you can see the actor's pulse beating in their neck).
  • Some viewers may find Stevo and his pal's nonconformist and belligerent attitudes and behavior (including beating up others) as bad and/or disrespectful.
  • Others may take offense at the "attacks" on religion (during the opening credits we see a skeleton hanging on a cross among other things; later Sean hallucinates that Satan is in his house and has turned his mother into a bull; a person comments on Mormons being fascists and others call Salt Lake City a religiously oppressive place; responding to an ultra-religious woman in a liquor store, Stevo pulls down his pants to show her the "666" he has tattooed on his butt; a guy tries to evoke the devil to prove that he doesn't exist and uses a lit pentagram on the ground to do so and Stevo says about Salt Lake City "that Jesus Christ took a sh*t and it landed here) or political figures (we see a picture of Ronald Reagan with a swastika on his forehead).
  • In a flashback, Stevo states that he's finally old enough to tell his parents "f*ck you" and does so to them -- while also giving them "the finger" -- after they try to express their concerns about his lifestyle.
  • A woman at a party gives Bob some Percodan telling him that it's just vitamins.
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may be tense to some viewers as well, but many are played for comic and not a suspenseful effect.
  • Bats/Clubs: Used by various people to attack others and by one character to smash car windows and windshields.
  • Knife: Used by Sean to chase his mother around the house while hallucinating on acid (either a real flashback or his remembered hallucination).
  • Handguns: Aimed by police at Sean for the above.
  • Pistol: Pulled out by Mark to convince Stevo that he shot some people in the past, and then it's later used to shoot holes in a chair on either side of Bob's head.
  • Shotgun/Rifle: Pulled out by a liquor store owner to make Stevo and his buddies leave.
  • During a montage/explanation of violence, we see several violent images including the famous photo of a Vietnamese officer with his gun to another man's head.
  • Rifle/shotgun: Used by Bob's crazy father to shoot at him and Stevo.
  • Phrases: "Laid" and "Shag" (sexual), "I don't give a f*ck," "Bitch" (said about women, as well as playfully said between guys), "Balls" (testicles), "Bust my balls," "Kick my ass," "Hell-bent," "Fag," "Piss me off," "Loser," "Kiss my ass," "Shut up," "Piss," "Pain in the ass," "Sucked," "Who the hell are you?" "Punks," "Pissed us off," "Sucks," "Idiot," "Jeez" and "Losers."
  • The appearance (blue hair, spiked hair, Mohawk haircuts, heavy chains around the neck, one accompanied by a razor blade, etc...) and behavior (rebellious, having drawn/spray-painted graffiti on walls, beating up others, etc...) of the punks and others may cause some imitative behavior.
  • Bob punches a mirror.
  • We see several instances of characters giving "the finger" to others.
  • Mark, Stevo and Bob go out and steal a car (upon the first man's insistence and we don't see the actual theft, but only see them after they have it).
  • In a flashback, we see Mike, who's very drunk, bashing car windows and windshields with a bat.
  • None.
  • A tiny bit of suspenseful music occurs in the film.
  • While many of the songs lyrics could not be understood, one of them repeated the phrase "sex and violence" while others contained several uses of the "f," "s" and other words.
  • At least 118 "f" words (2 used sexually as is "shag" and 1 used with "mother"), 41 "s" words, 3 slang terms for female genitals ("p*ssy"), 19 asses (8 used with "hole"), 13 hells, 3 S.O.B.'s, 2 damns, and 9 uses of "G-damn," 6 of "Oh my God," 3 each of "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ" and 1 use each of "My God" and "Swear to God" as exclamations.
  • Sean wears a shirt with the words "F*ck you" written on it.
  • We hear a young man tell his buddy that he needs to "score" tonight and that if he doesn't get some "tail," his "balls" will fall off.
  • During the opening credits we see a cartoon drawing of a bare-breasted woman.
  • Stevo comments on girls who would only have sex with guys if they sported a British accent (and then mocks one of the guys saying, "Do you fancy a shag?" while also pumping his hips and moving his arms).
  • Stevo comments "I don't f*ck anybody in my own blood line."
  • We see Stevo passionately making out with a young woman up against a wall at a party/concert. Eventually he thrusts between her legs (but they don't appear to be having sex) and we hear some brief sexual sounds.
  • We see the top part of a guy's bare butt as he joins a fight on a stage (with his pants partially falling off him).
  • Stevo's dad has drinks with a woman at a bar who says that he's "TLM" or "third leg material" (suggestively referring to another part of his anatomy).
  • A young man who many believe to be gay (but isn't) says that many people want to fight him because in reality "they want to f*ck me."
  • We see the top part of Stevo's bare butt as he pulls down his pants to show an ultra-religious woman the "666" he has tattooed there.
  • High from "dropping acid" Stevo and Sandy have sex on a park bench during the day with her on top of him (with some sounds heard and the sight of the bare side of his upper thigh while she moves on top of him -- but all we see are fragmented glimpses).
  • A poster on a wall shows a cartoon figure of a completely nude woman (full frontal, but no pubic hair) and we also see a nude female mannequin (without a head or arms).
  • Stevo walks in and sees Sandy on top of a guy in bed (under the sheets) having sex with movement and heavy breathing.
  • In a flashback, a young Bob tells Stevo that they should be going to parties, "getting drunk and getting laid."
  • Bob smokes more than five times, while Mark, Sean and others smoke a few times and miscellaneous characters also smoke at parties and clubs.
  • Stevo's parents try to express their concerns to him about his lifestyle, but he won't listen and then mentions that they're divorced (and they're antagonistic to each other when their son's not around).
  • Mark tells the story of his family dying in a plane crash (of which he managed to survive).
  • Bob's crazy father shoots at him and Stevo with his shotgun/rifle.
  • The punk lifestyle.
  • Why many teens think they need to (and do) rebel against their parents, authority and society overall.
  • We briefly see Stevo and Bob run up and attack two other young men and hit them with bats/clubs.
  • Bob punches a mirror.
  • In either a real flashback or a remembered hallucination, Sean chases his mother around the house with a knife. The police then arrive and draw their guns on him outside their house.
  • After Bob joins a band on stage, the bouncer grabs and then repeatedly punches and kicks him. Mike then rushes onto the stage and repeatedly pummels the bouncer and then Stevo and others join in the melee.
  • We see Mike slam some guy against a wall at a party (for no real apparent reason).
  • Mark says that he shot two men (in the head) in Miami who tried to rob him. When Stevo doesn't believe him, Mark pulls out a pistol and aims it at him.
  • Mark tells the story of his family dying in a plane crash (of which he managed to survive) and of his mother's head flying toward him and seeing other body parts (we only hear the story and don't see anything).
  • Mark, believing that Bob stole something from him, fires gunshots in a chair on both sides of Bob's head and then alternates holding it on Bob and Stevo.
  • Mark fires several shots at a car they stole.
  • After Bob and Stevo are detained by the police, one of the officers taunts Bob to punch him, so he does and the cop then punches him back and the other cop hits Stevo with his nightclub stick.
  • A liquor store owner pulls out a shotgun/rifle to make Stevo and his buddies leave.
  • We see Stevo and his buddies jump some local Nazis and hit them with baseball bats and kick them on the ground.
  • Some guys crash a party and fight with Stevo and his buddies (with bats and we see someone bite another person on the leg).
  • During a montage/explanation of violence, we see several violent images including the famous photo of a Vietnamese officer with his gun to another man's head.
  • Having found Sandy in bed with another guy, Stevo rushes over to him and pummels the guy.
  • Stevo throws a plastic baby doll across the room where it shatters against a wall.
  • We see Mike, who's very drunk in a flashback, bash several car windows and windshields with a bat and then, after being caught by the police, kicking out the back window of a police car and escaping.
  • Bob's crazy father shoots at him and Stevo with his shotgun/rifle.
  • Bob throws something and breaks a bathroom mirror.

  • Reviewed April 16, 1999 / Posted April 23, 1999

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