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SLC Punk Reviews

Very possibly the most ruthlessly irritating comedy since the dreaded S.F.W. attempted to put its finger on the pulse of young America, and that's saying something. It's 1985, and deep in the heart of Ronald Reagan's America — Salt Lake City, Utah — punk-rocker Stevo (the redoubtable Matthew Lillard) is angry. Disgusted by the banality of the world around him, Stevo wears his electric-blue dye-job with pride, swearing to remain "hardcore" amid rampant selling out. But it isn't easy: His hippie-turned-corporate lawyer dad (Christopher McDonald) is pressuring him to go to Harvard Law School, and Stevo has to travel to Wyoming just to buy beer. But he and his friends (including Michael Goorjian, Devan Sawa and Annabeth Gish, the local scene goddess) are determined to stay true to all that being a punk signifies, and so engage in a lot of punk-rock behavior: partying, discussing the virtues of anarchy, pogo-ing at rock shows and spewing invective against fascists, skinheads, mods, rockers, poseurs of every stripe and — above all — rednecks. It could be that writer-director James Merendino meant this rambling and solipsistic film to be a satire on the bone-headed pseudo-politics that marked so much of the '80's hardcore scene. But there's an earnestness afoot that would indicate otherwise. Merendino, who directed WITCHCRAFT IV before turning to more serious films, has all the manic energy of a punk-rock Richard Lester. And his film is quite stylish, full of flashy editing and a wide variety of optical effects bolstered by a soundtrack that's any aging punk's wet dream. But it's all in the service of nothing in particular, and the hyperactive Lillard — who, when used sparingly, can be funny (remember his bit in SCREAM?) — is on-camera and in-your-face the entire time. He's unbearable.