Critics Consensus

Slacker rests its shiftless thumb on the pulse of a generation with fresh filmmaking that captures the tenor of its time while establishing a benchmark for 1990s indie cinema.



Total Count: 35


Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,293
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Movie Info

In Richard Linklater's Slacker, a girl tells her boyfriend, "You're just pulling these things from the sh*t you read. You haven't thought it out for yourself. It's like you pasted together these bits and pieces from your authoritative sources. I don't know. I'm beginning to suspect there's nothing in there." Linklater caroms from one character to another in the college community of Austin, TX, moving through an unlinked assortment of people who like to hear themselves talk but don't like to listen very much. The characters include a cab fare (played by Linklater) who expounds to the cab driver about his theory of reality, a robber who ends up getting a tour of Austin from his victim, a man who suspects that one of the Apollo astronauts saw an alien spaceship, and a woman carrying around Madonna's Pap smear in a cloudy container. Linklater's relaxed and ironic tone depicts a collection of post-Reagan lost souls adrift in a sea of shallowness with no direction home. As one character asks a friend, "Do you ever just want to get out of this country?"

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Richard Linklater
as Should Have Stayed at Bus Station, Should Have Stayed at the Bus Station
Rudy Basquez
as Taxi Driver
Jean Caffeine
as Roadkill
Jan Hockey
as Jogger
Stephan Hockey
as Running Late
Mark James
as Hit-and-run Son
Samuel Dietert
as Grocery Grabber of Death's Bounty
Bob Boyd
as Officer Bozzio
Keith McCormack
as Street Musician
Terrence Kirk
as Officer Love
Jennifer Schaudies
as Walking to Coffee Shop
Dan Kratochvil
as Espresso Czar/Masonic Malcontent
Maris Strautmanis
as Giant Cappuccino
Brecht Andersch
as Dostoyevsky Wannabe
Tom Pallotta
as Looking for Missing Friend
Jerry Deloney
as Been on the Moon Since the 50s
Heather West
as Tura Santana Look-Alike
John Spath
as Co-op Guy
Ron Marks
as Bush Basher
Daniel Dugan
as Comb Game Player
Brian Crockett
as Sadistic Comb Game Player
Scott Marcus
as Ultimate Loser
Stella Weir
as Stephanie from Dallas
Teresa Taylor
as Papsmear Pushover
Mark Harris
as T-Shirt Terrorist
Greg Wilson
as Anti-Traveler
Debbie Pastor
as Wants to Leave Country
Gina Lalli
as Sidewalk Psychic
Sharon Roos
as Devoted Follower
Frank Orrall
as Happy-Go-Lucky Guy
Skip Fulton Jr.
as Two for One Special
Abra Moore
as Has Change
Lori Capp
as Traumatized Yacht Owner
Gus Vayas
as Cranky Cook
Louis Black
as Paranoid Paper Reader
Don Stroud
as Recluse in Bathrobe
Janelle Coolich
as Shut-in Girlfriend
Aleister Barron
as Peeping Kid
Albans Benchoff
as Coke Machine Robber
Nigel Benchoff
as Budding Capitalist Youth
Kevin Whitley
as Jilted Boyfriend
Steven Anderson
as Guy Who Tosses Typewriter
Robert Pierson
as Based on Authoritative Sources
Sarah Harmon
as Has Faith in Groups
David Haymond
as Street Dweller
John Slate
as `Conspiracy A-Go-Go' Author
Charles Gunning
as Hitchhiker Awaiting `True Call'
Tamsy Ringler
as Video Interviewer
Luke Savisky
as Video Cameraman
Meg Brennan
as Sitting at Cafe
Phillip Hostak
as Hit Up for Cigarettes
D. Angus MacDonald
as Video Playing Store Security
Louis Mackey
as Old Anarchist
Kathy McCarty
as Anarchist's Daughter
Jack Meredith
as Get-Away Accomplice
Clark Lee Walker
as Cadillac Crook
Kalman Spellitich
as Video Backpacker
Siqgouri Wilkovich
as Slapping Boyfriend
John Hawkins
as Choking Girlfriend
Scott Rhodes
as Disgruntled Grad Student
Denise Montgomery
as Having a Breakthrough Day
Mimi Vitetta
as Teacup Sculpter
Susannah Simone
as Working on Same Painting
Bruce Hughes
as Card Playing Waiter
Keith Fletcher
as Cafe Card Player No. 1
Eric Buehlman
as Cafe Card Player No. 2
R. Malice
as Scooby Doo Philosopher
Mark Quirk
as Papa Smurf
Kim Krizan
as Questions Happiness
Annick Souhami
as Has Conquered Fear of Rejection
Regina Garza
as Smoking Waiter
Stephen Jacobson
as S-T-E-V-E with a Van
Eric Lord
as Doorman at Club
Kelly Linn
as Bike Rider with Nice Shoes
Rachel Reinhardt
as Cousin from Greece
Stewart Bennet
as Sitting on Ledge
Kevin Thompson (II)
as Handstamping Arm Licker
Nick Maffei
as Pixi-Visionary
Nolan Morrison
as To Be Buried By History
Kyle Rosenblad
as Going to Catch a Show
Ed Hall
as Band Playing at Club
Lucinda Scott
as Dairy Queen Photographer
as Anti-Artist
Marianne Hyatt
as Late Night Pick-up
Gary Price
as Watching Early Morning TV
Joseph L. "Mr. Spoons" Jones
as Old Man Recording Thoughts
Kendal Smith
as Post-Modern Paul Revere
Sean Coffey
as Super 8 Cameraman
Robert Jacks
as Club Owner [uncredited]
Patrice Sullivan
as Day Tripper
Jennifer Carroll
as All-Night Partier
Charlotte Norris
as Convertible Driver
Greg Ward
as Tosses Camera Off Cliff
Mike Enright
as Bicyclist (uncredited)
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News & Interviews for Slacker

Critic Reviews for Slacker

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (7)

Audience Reviews for Slacker

  • Oct 08, 2015
    Slacker still holds up after years and years. It is amazing how memorable various scenes are (especially when compared with other films where I forget what has happened even before it finishes). The film has got great style and indie spirit. It has a nice director's commentary track as well.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 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!
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Apr 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
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jul 18, 2013
    Richard Linklater's groundbreakingly independent debut, "Slacker," is a truly odd concept for a film: people conversing with one another and moving through their lives like usual. It's an idea that's so mundane that you wonder why it hasn't been thought of before yet it's an idea that's so fresh and unusual that it's kind of exhilarating to watch all of the action pan out. Linklater's film does contain segments that aren't are enticing as other ones, but it all comes together as a surprisingly cohesive work.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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