Published Feb 01, 2002This is the film Jason Schwartzman chose as his return to the big screen? After brilliantly playing the role of Max Fischer in "Rushmore," Schwartzman has tainted his resume with the role of Ethan in the dismal directorial debut of Dewey Nicks in Slackers. Ethan - a completely over-the-top role that's embarrassing to see Schwartzman plow through - is seen falling down stairs and tripping for no apparent reason but for the sake of random slapstick. A far cry from the deadpan delivery that made Max Fischer such a complex and intriguing character.
Comprised of the standard formula for teen comedies, Slackers starts off as a film of three male college students who manipulate and breeze their way through classes by the means of cheating. This could have been the saving grace of the film, complete with witty and intricate deception techniques, but the whole cheating angle is just a loose gimmick to make Slackers different from other fluff in this genre of movie-making. Soon the girl is introduced into the plot and predictability is set to maximum. Dave (Devon Sawa), our male lead and who is also one of the trio of cheaters, lays his eye on the unsuspecting Angela (James King) but soon gets into a blackmailing jam that involves making this particular female fall in love with chemically-unbalanced Ethan (Schwartzman.) So to no surprise Dave falls even harder for Angela and after a few minutes they're madly in love with each other, especially after sharing a special moment set to music in the school's swimming pool. Throw in some misunderstandings and shouting matches and we even finish with a public display of affection to win back Angela's heart during a final exam.
The one major problem with Slackers is that it simply isn't a funny film and for a comedy this has to be the most crucial element to miss the boat on. Instead we're given a mess of various half-assed scenes that really don't seem to mesh together at all. The writers, along with Dewey Nicks, had a great opportunity to take a talented cast consisting of Schwartzman, Jason Segel ("Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared") and Laura Prepon ("That 70s Show") and produce an intelligent comedy that didn't resort to gags about vibrators and hair dolls. We have American Pie to thank for this.