Slackers

2002, Movie, R, 87 mins

Review

SLACKERS
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Three college con men are trumped — at least temporarily — by a blackmailing nerd. In just 48 days, Dave (Devon Sawa), Sam (Jason Segel) and Jeff (Michael C. Marona) will graduate from Holden University, having cheated their collective way through every paper, exam and extracurricular assignment that ever stood between them and the relentless pursuit of slacking off. But Dave gets overconfident and makes a fatal mistake. While scamming a set of Physics exam questions for Sam, Dave catches sight of Angela (James King), whose beauty is surpassed only by her brains and goodness. Dave grabs the seat next to her, enraging mono-browed Ethan (Jason Schwartzman), who's woven an elaborate fantasy life around the dream girl who doesn't even know he's alive. When evidence of Dave's scam falls into Ethan's hot little hands, he delivers an ultimatum: Dave and his friends must make Angela go out with him, or they're all getting expelled. Dave becomes the project's point man, and Angela naturally falls for him. And the more he learns about Ethan — starting with the way-creepy shrine to Angela in his room, complete with pint-sized doll made of strands of her hair — the less good he feels about delivering her into Ethan's sweaty embrace. Since this isn't "Revenge of the Nerds 5," it's a foregone conclusion that the final comeuppance will be Ethan's, but hoisting him on his own skid-marked petard takes every bit of underhanded ingenuity the three friends can muster. While located firmly in the PORKY'S tradition of cheerfully vulgar, school-based hijinks, this oddball comedy affects a tone of such flat-out skankiness that it's almost — and I did say almost — fascinating. The film's lighting, makeup and costume design are relentlessly unflattering: Already scrawny and pallid, Segal and Marona look like the guy in your freshman class who was so relentlessly ostracized he had a meltdown before spring break and never came back. Even certified cutie Sawa appears sallow and slightly doughy, and Schwartzman's quirky looks are exaggerated to the point of grotesquerie. Only King emerges from this unflattering treatment unscathed — saved, one must assume, by her supermodel savoir faire. The gags are familiar collegiate stuff, involving horny young men, horny old whores (a moment of silence, please, for degraded '50s bombshell Mamie Van Doren), horny young tramps (including That '70s Show's engaging Laura Prepon), silly foreigners, uptight authority figures, homosexuals and sassy fat women. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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