This isn't a movie with a story or a plot, but rather a reflection on the sinew that binds it all together. Linklater's mellow, unintentionally masterful "Slacker" feels like the movie that happens around all of the other movies. As if you're watching some other movie, and an extra walks by in the background. Richard Linklater made a movie about where that guy is headed, and where the guy that walked behind him is headed, and the other guy, and so on and so forth until he ran out of assertions.
Consistently fascinating and entertaining, which is a coup for a plotless film in which the primary characters change every scene. The nadir of this gimmick is early in the film, when one of the vignettes relies too much on perturbing incident rather than the meandering pseudo-philosophy conversations that make up the rest of the film. Not to worry, as the film makes up for it with hilarious moments like a woman selling Madonna's Pap smear, a guy living in a room full of televisions, and an old man teaching a burglar about the merits of anarchism. And there's a kind of understated sadness to these aimless people, like the kids that steal Pepsis to sell to people, or the Kennedy-assassination theorist who immediately starts talking about Jack Ruby's dog when someone asks how he is. By the end, Slacker has turned into a sort of "portrait of a city film", in this case Dallas, Texas; one feels like they have the complete feel of the weirdest corners of a city they've been to not once.
Linklater is really about a lot of philosophical conversation - or just interesting conversation such as talking about a Madonna pap smear - and he does little interesting technically. One of the few shots in this film which I found to be great was a long take in which the camera tracks back from the scene of a crime - an old lady being hit by a car - and then pans left to transition to the next character in his home. Sadly this is the repetition in the film that makes it feel so monotonous. It transitions between "episodes" by introducing characters at the end of each episode that pretty much just pass by. And I don't believe we come back to any characters in the film once their "episode" is done.
I do enjoy the conversations in the film, I really do, but they don't really make up for the fact that this film has pretty terrible structure. While structure isn't necessary in a film, it can act as a guide for a good story. Characterization might help as well, rather than just conversations about life and such. Linklater seems more fit to write essays than to make films with movies such as this and Waking Life.
If you want to get into deep thought this is a good film for you to watch, but if you want entertainment and story, look elsewhere.