Penelope Spheeris, director of the infamous documentary The Decline of Western Civilization may well have given the world its first punk-rock Western in the form of Dudes, a sort of Suburbia meets High Noon meets Deliverance. Three East Coast punks (Jon Cryer, Daniel Roebuck, and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) opt to leave behind the filth and gloom of New York City to become modern-day pioneers on the trail to California; that is, until a gang of redneck road warrior-types led by Lee Ving (of the punk band Fear) waylay the trio and kill Flea in a fashion brutal enough to justify the inevitable retribution. After their pleas to the local sheriff fall on deaf ears, Cryer and Roebuck decide instead to follow the law of the West and serve their own brand of justice as what appear to be a bondage-oriented cowboy and a squirrel on steroids. While the plot seems contrived and asinine, the violence often gratuitous, and the characters paper-thin, Spheeris nonetheless manages to create a likeable and highly watchable -- if often silly -- film. Cryer and Roebuck do the best they can with the material, Ving plays an adequately loathsome villain, and Flea lends a glimpse of his acting ability by offering a convincing portrayal of a dead body. Nowhere near being the time capsule that is The Decline of Western Civilization, Dudes still offers some insight into the punk subculture of the '80s. Spheeris later directed the hugely successful Wayne's World as well as The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years. … More
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