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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 12/7/99

SLC Punk
1999 (1999) - Columbia TriStar

review by Frank Ortiz of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

SLC Punk Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B/B

Specs and Features

97 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary (with director/writer James Merendino, and actors Matthew Lillard and Michael Goorjian), theatrical trailers for SLC Punk and Go, isolated music track, comic book presentation of SLC Punk, film-themed menus, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0), subtitles: English, Spanish & French, Close Captioned

Is this another one of those films about the 80's? Is it just another film about the "punk" scene? Or is it really all of the above, as well as a fun indie project? I think SLC Punk is surprising a lot of folks. This is one I can't hold back on… I really like it. Beyond all the "in your face" attitude, social disorder, youth angst and violence, this film strikes a certain chord in me that makes me want to hit a club with a live punk rawk show and pit around (that's slam dance in the pit - not mosh - for you youngins). I've heard all the old "back in the day" stories, and I've shared one or two of my own, but SLC Punk is a story that hits home for some of us.

The film is about an anarchist punk youth named Stevo (played by Matthew Lillard), and his life living in the Mormon capitol, Salt Lake City. It takes you through a few flashbacks here and there, to help you lean more about many of the characters. The crux of the story, is Stevo's search for an identity for the adult chapter of his life. Should he stay in SLC, or go to an Ivy League school for a Law degree? Should he "sell out", or live out his ideals? Stevo's strong friendship with Bob (Michael A. Goorjian) plays a key role in his everyday life and his passions.

I was really surprised by Matthew Lillard here. In other films I've found his rather annoying. But this time around, he's surprisingly likeable and charming, and ends up being way too damn familiar. Funny - that's most likely why I really enjoyed this film. There are so many familiar people and cliques here, that I found myself thinking about some folks I knew from high school and college that I haven't recalled in a while. Some of the friends I had back then even mixed it up in the Orange City Mall "riots" here in Orange County, CA back in the 80's (which were really no more than a few fights between Rockers, Punkers, Mods and whoever else wanted to jump in). There's quite a bit of violence in this movie as well, but it's not played up to be too glamourized - it's more shown to be merely a part of the culture. SLC Punk is well written and directed. Director James Meredino took some chances in making a movie about a group of people considered misfits, and I think it paid off nicely.

The video on this DVD is clean and bright. Columbia TriStar does a very nice job with their anamorphic-enhanced widescreen transfers, and this is no exception. There's the occasional digital artifacting to be seen now and again, but that's not a big deal. The sound is extremely important in this genre, and the audio you get on this DVD is just great. Both the 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtracks are mixed well. The 5.1 works my sub nicely, and has good crisp centering on dialogue without distortion. This is a good looking and sounding disc.

You also get a few nice extras, although not a ton of stuff. There's an audio commentary that starts out with Merendino and actor Michael A. Goorjian, and about 20 minutes or so into it, Matthew comes in as well. The commentary is fun, with many behind-the-scenes stories, interesting little notes on some of the scenes, and all sorts of the kind of stuff that make commentaries enjoyable. The mood changes to a joke time when Matthew comes in, but the information continues to flow with good input from everyone. I was pleased to see that there's an isolated music track on this disc, although the volume fluctuates somewhat (just as it does in the normal tracks) - still, it's a nice extra. The comic presentation is cool and unique, and you get quite a few pages worth of it.

I never thought I would say this, but SLC Punk is a great movie about the American Punks in the 80's. If you were a punk yourself, had friends that were punks, or if you like anything all about punk music, then my bet that you'll enjoy this film. I'd easily recommend it.

Frank Ortiz
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