I was talked into watching "Slackers" after a friend recommended it, with the line "It's like American Pie, but with intelligence". Oh what a mistake, maybe I misheard him, but "Slackers" is definitely not an intelligent version of "American Pie". I can see the similarities, the central characters are 3 university students, a nerd and a beautiful girl and there is plenty of over the top gags which would fit into an "American Pie" movie. But unlike "American Pie", "Slackers" doesn't really come together and struggles to gel.
The university years are the best years of your life, especially for Dave, Sam and Jeff (Devon Sawa, Jason Segel and Michael C. Maronna). For the past four years, the three room mates have scammed and cheated their way to the edge of greatness, and with just their finals to go, graduating with honours seems to be a dead cert. That is until geeky Ethan (Jason Schwartzman) catches them in a scam to steal an exam paper, and threatens to get them busted unless they help him to pull Angela (Jaime King) the girl of his dreams. With no option but to try and help Ethan things get messy when Dave ends up falling for Angela.
First of the problems is that although "Slackers" is set in the real world, it features too many fantasy sequences which don't really have any meaning when it comes to the overall storyline. Then there are the outrageous gags, which although are on par with the sort of gross out humour you see in various modern teen comedies (look out for singing male genitalia), seem to have been added purely for shock value rather than adding to the story. Finally, the cast are trying far too hard, and at times their performances come over as laughably poor.
Okay, so the basis of the story to "Slackers" is a love story, some people have made a comparison between this and the story of Cyrano de Bergerac, but trust me; the similarity is weak at best. We see the university geek; blackmail 3 students into helping him win the affection of his dream girl, unfortunately this backfires as his dream girl falls for one of the blackmailed students. This is really very weak stuff and on its own would really struggle to fill out the movie which at 85 minutes is not that long, thank goodness. So on top of this, you have the cover story which is how the 3 lads manage to scam their way through university as well as getting the background information on the dream girl. Without this cover story, "Slackers" would be a really terrible movie instead of just poor.
In the lead role of Dave is Devon Sawa and out of all the leading cast, probably puts in the best performance as the 'face' of the 3 scammers. The next most important character is Ethan, the geek, played by Jason Schwartzman and the best way to describe this character is as a poor imitation of Jim Levenstein from "American Pie" but make him even more of a geek. Next is Angela, the dream girl, played by Jaime King, sadly although her role should have been one of the most important parts in the movie, she is nothing more than eye candy. The other two scamming room mates are played by Jason Segel and Michael C. Maronna and are really just there as support for the lead trio.
"Slackers" is the directional debut of Dewey Nicks and sadly it shows, as there are several things wrong with this movie which probably wouldn't have happened if this had been given to a more seasoned director. The sound track is also a pretty bland affair with only 2 numbers sticking out, and they were "Three is a magic number "and "The Sign".
What this all boils down to is that "Slackers" is sadly one of the most disappointing movies I've watched, maybe I was expecting too much, as it certainly didn't live up to its billing. Perhaps there is a little bit of irony with the title "Slackers" as I'm sure the cast and crew were cutting corners at every possible opportunity.