Slacker - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Slacker Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 29, 2010
A perfect portrait of Austin, Texas in the nineties, this film is full of vignettes of what it is like living out your twenties in that time period. It balances between being a love letter to Austin, and a diatribe about the collective characters that you meet when you're young. Linklater's films have often been heralded as centering on realism in contrast against the absurd. From the "Anti-Artist" in the bar scene to the conspiracy theorist in the book store, we've heard, and listened to, and felt exhausted by many of these same people in our lives. Though this film is nearly twenty-five years old, it feels just as relevant in today's times. Academia is always full of hotheads and passionate centenarians alike. This too is the world of liberal society, happy to philosophize about every aspect of life but intent on not living it. This film is funny, intellectually stimulating, and perversely amazing with its characters and cult following. A definitive piece of Linklater filmmaking and cultural iconoclast in the world of indie filmmaking, this is a must watch, in any case.
Super Reviewer
July 27, 2014
In Richard Linklater's first feature film, there are clear moments of technical mishaps and set issues, however, with such an ambitious project most of that is forgivable for being his first film. There is no linear plot in this film, but it feels more like a relay race/hangout film, as one scene with characters seamlessly leads into another scene with new characters, and so on. "Slacker" is all about the lives of burnout teenagers as they live their lives after college. It was just very interesting to see how alike and how different some people are from each other. This film is brilliantly written, but that is what Richard Linklater's films are (character driven). Aside from some technical issues that may or may not take you out of the film, you should be able to really enjoy this film. It is a fantastic first attempt for director Richard Linklater, who Produced, Directed, Wrote, and appeared in this film. "Slacker" is great!
Super Reviewer
April 30, 2013
Even in this early stage of his career, Linklater makes his ambition known. Though the entire thing probably won't resonate with everyone, there may in fact be something for everyone in this weird, meandering narrative experiment that will change the way you think about the strangers you see every day.
Super Reviewer
½ January 10, 2008
The camera tracks the aimless slackers of Austin, TX, following one for a few minutes and then veering off to chase another as they drink coffee and spout a 50/50 mix of philosophy and conspiracy theories. An experimental portrait of the subculture of bright but unambitious dropouts and unemployed postgrads that exists in every college town.
Super Reviewer
½ January 20, 2009
A series of vignettes on life as a twenty-something resident in and around the city of Austin, Texas. Known in some circles as a "cult classic", Slacker features atrocious acting, shaky camera work and Madonna's pap smear.
Super Reviewer
½ January 2, 2012
Anti-Artist: Uh, I don't do much really, I just read, and work here, and, uh, sleep and eat, and, uh, watch movies. 

This review is going to be pretty short, as there's nothing really worth talking about. 

Slacker is a plotless film that follows losers around. Most of the time, these losers think they are geniuses. They talk about complicated issues, and give their theories on these issues. Every person the movie follows is that guy or girl you see on the street that starts talking to you about shit you don't care about. The only thing you can think about when around them is, I wanna get the fuck away from this weirdo. 

Linklater made some good movies after this, and a bunch of critics adore this film. In my opinion, it is useless and boring. If listening to crackpots talk about nothing that really matters is your idea of a good time, have at it. I'll take Dazed and Confused, and Suburbia over this.
Super Reviewer
½ May 22, 2011
if i was a cab driver who went to bed at 2:00 every morning and woke up at 4:30 every morning and worked with shitty, racist, boring, stupid people and had to drive a shitty car that worked less than half the time and had to drive around ugly places and pick up different shitty, boring, pretentious people like the one in the first monologue (Richard Linklater) and this stale prick started babbling at my fucking tired, shitty personality about quantum science and lucid dreaming or what the fuck ever then i think i would be fairly entitled to do what Robert De Niro did at the end of "Taxi Driver."
Super Reviewer
½ November 27, 2011
This film depicts various characters in Austin, all of whom share the same post-modernist, anti-establishmentarian philosophy.
The beginning of the film shows a man getting into a taxi cab and discussing quantum physics with the cab driver. When he gets out, the film's focus switches to another story about a woman who got run over. The focus of the film gets passed from character to character over the next hour and forty-five minutes. It's an interesting idea - passing the film's action like a hot potato - but I found two major issues with the execution.
First, every character is interchangeable. I can't imagine the quantum physics guy radically disagreeing with the conspiracy theorist or the old anarchist. The film could have been one long monologue by the same character; it seems only coincidental that it's divided into different people.
Second, the stories are often senseless and pointless. Yes, I understand that the point of Slacker is to portray slackers who, on the surface, may lead senseless and pointless lives, but there are occasions when the bullshit these characters spew becomes overwhelmingly deep.
The film defies all the usual structural demands; there's no climax, rising action, or denouement. It just ends.
And overall, when it did, I though that I had just completed a chore, a marathon that got me nowhere and taught me nothing.
Super Reviewer
½ October 27, 2011
A very original debut from Richard Linklater.
Super Reviewer
January 5, 2011
Richard Linklater's debut film is one I was expecting to (or figured I would) love. Instead, I merely really like it. For now it gets a strong B+. Many of his trademarks (which coincidentally arew things I like anyway) show up here: rambling conversations (often intellectual/philosophical in nature), haivng the movie take place over the course of roughly 24 hours, oddball characters, long takes, and tracking shots. There is no pliot here, which'll alienate a lot of people, but I mostly liked that.

This is essentaiily a plotless tour through the bohemian or slacker culture of Austin, Texas where the audience follows people from one conversation to another (it's a cool technique) and gets a glimpse at some oddball people that can be really fun to listen to. The film is something of a generational statement defining what makes Generation X tick. I't kind of plays like a free-form documentary, which is kind of cool. It's hard to tell how many of the people are really actors, and how much acting is really happening.

Of the many eccentric characters, my two favorites are the Madonna Pap Smear Pusher (Butthole Surfers drummer Teresa Taylor) and an edlerly anarchist who befriends a guy who tries to burglarize his house. They probably are also the funneist and most interesting, but that's just me. I just wish that Taylor would have had more screen time.

Even though this film is an acquired taste, it's still gonna have a limited appeal. I'd give it a higher grade, but it was a little more boring than I thought it might be, and also a bit too long and rambling. I'm glad I saw it though because it kind of seems like the sort of thing that I myself would make (or would like to). Probably the greatest compliment I can pay this film is that it really helped push along the independent film scene of the 1990s. Without this film Kevin Smith wouldn't have a career, and the popularizing of the slacker culture wouldn't exist, and not having those two things would be a real shame.
Super Reviewer
½ January 27, 2011
It's a very particular type of movie. While I didn't find it all that fun or entertaining, it's a very important story being told. Generation X's meaning is literally being displayed on camera. A lot of the dialogue is obviously improvised and at times it feels more like a mockumentary than a narrative, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just frustrating at times when you're used to expecting a straight forward movie.
Super Reviewer
½ January 17, 2008
Interesting. Not a lot happens and there's no real plot to talk of, but it does have some appeal. What that is, I couldn't quite say.
Super Reviewer
June 20, 2006
Working on Same Painting: Sorry, I'm late.
Having a Breakthrough Day: That's okay, time doesn't exist.

The first film written and directed by Richard Linklater, this is a uniquely-structured and plotless film, following a single day in the life of an ensemble of mostly twenty-somethings in Austin. The film follows various characters and scenes, never staying with one character or conversation for more than a few minutes before picking up someone else in the scene and following them.

Old Anarchist: And remember: the passion for destruction is also a creative passion.

The movie is literally about nothing. We meet a whole assortment of characters, never see them again after their scenes consisting of either banter or dialog, and the movie eventually ends without having any standard structure. This is the kind of things some cult films are made of.

Disgruntled Grad Student: Every action is a positive action, even if it has a negative result.

Obviously done very cheaply and with no professional actors, the movie still manages to work due to the fact that the dialog is interesting, sometimes funny, but consistently approached in some sort of surrealist manner.

Hitchhiker: Every single commodity you produce is a piece of your own death!

This was one of the several films in the 90s that brought in the wave of independent films to wider audiences. It is also the film that inspired Kevin Smith to become a filmmaker. These points do not necessarily mean anything, but in terms of relating it somehow to someone, this is the kind of movie it is.

Nothing happens, but it is filled with conversations that are interesting and intriguing. Yep, that is what will pass as a recommendation.

Has Conquered Fear of Rejection: Do you have a car?
S-T-E-V-E with a Van: Do you have a car, I have *a van*, lets go!
Super Reviewer
March 1, 2008
The movie is pointless.
Super Reviewer
½ March 4, 2007
The greatest movie about people doing nothing you'll ever see.
Super Reviewer
½ December 31, 2006
Very creative and really well done.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
April 22, 2014
"I had always tried to do the right thing, but in the end, my results were just a little split off center from the most, though the same was offered to everybody else; I mean, what could you blame me for?" Jeez, when Umphrey's McGee finally get done with all of that prog Grateful Dead jamming, even they're lyrics seem to stretch on a little too long... kind of like my sentences. Yes, people, I just referenced a song from the modern rock era, but it's okay, because modern prog rock and, by extension, Umphrey's McGee are pretty awesome, and at any rate, UM has the only song titled "Slacker" that I can tolerate, Tech N9ne. It all works out in the end, because UM's very Dead Head style of aimless style, punctuated by a little bit of talk is pretty fitting in a discussion regarding this film, and if that makes you nervous, don't worry, people, because this is by no means "It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books". I don't know how you would be aware of that film and not aware of this one, but still, the fact of the matter is that with this second feature, Richard Linklater started getting a bit more of a grip on actually telling a story. Well, maybe he was still a little rusty on narratives by 1991, but hey, he was certainly no slacker when it came to making this film, because he did everything, except, you know, make a decent film. Yeah, for someone who was involved in more-or-less most aspects of this film, Linklater does indeed really slack off, though not nearly as consistently as he did with "Learn to Plow", at least trying more with technical style.

Visual style is, of course, pretty important in a film this naturalist, and while this effort's filming is not as celebratory of a distinguished environment as the filming of "Learn to Plow" was, cinematographer Lee Daniel takes advantage of Richard Linklater's having equipment of much higher quality to work with by delivering on some appealingly even coloration and lighting that is relatively realistic enough to immerse, though not as much as the framing and camerawork. Richard Linklater's stylistic skills as a director are commendable, as his now-trademark and audacious usage of long and extensively intimate, yet smooth tracking shots nails a fly-on-the-wall feel that draws you into the world, no matter how much other directorial touches distance you, and it helps that the people Linklater follows so intensely and stylishly endear by their own right. Certainly, the performers aren't given much to do, but they are given the challenge of grounding themselves as characters who are both relatable and unique, and they succeed about as well as they can with questionably drawn roles, with enough distinctive charisma and, for that matter, chemistry bond you with the focuses of this sloppy ensemble opus. Each member of this diverse cast of mostly unknown talents convinces, perhaps thoroughly, and that's endearing, even more so than the writing, which doesn't even give you the common courtesy of being consistently believable while it unravels down a problematically minimalist path. However, as irony would have it, Linklater's script plays about as big a role in almost saving the film as it does in seeing the final product's collapse into mediocrity, being artistically overblown and maybe even intellectually overblown (Alright, Dick, we get it, you like to write characters with some kind of philosophical idea), but clever, at least in writing dialogue that ends up being instrumental in this minimalist character study, and attracts a fair deal of intrigue with its amusing snap and even using plenty of thoroughly interesting themes to mold unique, if sometimes unbelievable characters. I won't simply say that most of the film's problems derive simply from questionable ideas, I would consider the film very competent in a lot of ways, with an interesting visual style, convincing performances and even clever writing, all of which carry the potential to carry the final product a long way. The potential of the film in other areas, however, is so lacking that the strengths cannot transcend mediocrity, secured by a questionable style, and even by questionable characterization.

A pretty big novelty in this very naturalist ensemble piece is its focusing primarily on bohemian characters, and I can get behind that just fine maybe more often than not, seeing as how the performances at least provie to be relatively convincing, but there are more than a few times in which the film gets carried away with its intentionally eccentric characterization, being practically annoying at times with its crafting questionable characters, who could perhaps be easier to buy into if they were more fleshed out. The film barely puts any effort into character development, ostensibly because it, trying to cover many, many "stories" in the span of an hour-and-a-half, doesn't have time, switching from character to character, rarely to return, and simply studying on various slices of life, with no real focal consistency, just a meandering string of happenings. The film is utterly aimless in its going all over the place, yet ending up heading nowhere, because no matter how uneven the structure of the film is, it at least keeps consistent in natural shortcomings that limit potential through minimalism, exacerbated by an even more questionable medium for its story concept, or rather, subject matter. Almost in the vein of Linklater's debut, "It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books", this film has a basic concept as a portrait of eccentricity, but no real narrative, having a whole lot more substance than the near-unwatchably unfocused "Learn to Plow", but overstylized as a deliberately structureless abuse of an artistic license. The basic "storytelling" style concept of this film is aggravating enough on its own, and it seriously doesn't help that Linklater isn't even realized in the extent to which he experiments, having plenty of times in which he focuses on genuinely entertaining writing like he did with something along the lines of the at least more fleshed out "Before" trilogy, before jerking into the same artistically overblown, substanceless nonsense that destroyed "Learn to Plow". Not even the film's sloppy style is consistent, but really, what ultimately secures the final product as not even as compelling as the "Before" trilogy is its at least keeping consistent in dullness, challenged by clever writing, but not overpowered, like it ought to be if this effort stands a chance of endearing. The film has a certain something that "Learn to Plow" didn't, and that's highlights, of which there are almost enough to save the film, but only "almost", being ultimately outweighed by enough borderline tedium to its aimlessness to eventually lose effectiveness to its novelty and fall flat as a mediocre artistic misfire that isn't really worth your time.

In conclusion, an immersive visual style, convincing performances and even many clever, if not intelligent highlights in writing all but save the final product as genuinely decent, but under the weight of overly bohemian and undercooked characterization, inconsistent focus, and a questionably minimalist, unevenly handled and all around rather dull experimental structure, Richard Linklater's "Slacker" collapses as an almost generally interesting, but predominantly aggravatingly misguided slice of life affair.

2.25/5 - Mediocre
Super Reviewer
February 29, 2012
One of the movies that started the American independent film movement of the 90s, Slacker is a strange, funny, and often surreal collection of interconnected vignettes about the unusual lives of various people in Austin, Texas. The movie transitions between vignettes every five or ten minutes, often simply by having the camera start following a new person. The writing is entirely stream-of-consciousness, and the movie is without a singular plot, which makes it less accessible to those hoping for a movie with a familiar structure. The dialogue is endlessly entertaining, with characters giving nonsensical rants about topics such as astronauts being on Mars since the 1950s, a JFK assassination book called "Conspiracy-a-go-go," and the sale of Madonna's pap smear. The movie is in essence just a reflection of the generation that director Richard Linklater was living in, where certain people, the slackers, were often just going through life without any real sense of direction, who spend their time thinking but never doing. With that in mind, Slacker is a one-of-a-kind movie that doesn't necessarily fit into a genre, but it paints an unusual and interesting portrait of a culture of so-called slackers.
Super Reviewer
½ December 14, 2012
The cult comedy Slacker was very interesting and high on entertainment, but it never really clicked with me. I found myself not watching but instead listening, to the conversations of want to be philosophers/politicians. All with there conspiracies and bar man logic of life, transitioning from one to another with no real strong connection before them. Some had fifteen minutes of screen time, and some had thirty seconds. I still don't know fully why I can't put over a 2.5 on this (which is still a decent rating), I just feel like nothing connected with me. I might as well have been ease dropping on people at Starbucks
Super Reviewer
December 22, 2008
Pretentious isn't quite the word, but I suspect Linklater thought a lot of these conversations (and I use "conversations" lightly as it's more of a series of monologues) were a lot funnier or more interesting than they actually are.
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