I first saw James Merendino’s SLC Punk either in college in 1999, or shortly thereafter, it was kind of a hazy time in my life. But in any case, I loved the movie, as did a lot of other people, where it became a cult classic over the years. It wasn’t like a mainstream hit though, so I was surprised when I heard rumblings a couple of years ago that a sequel was in the works. I was kind of excited for the movie, but also I had that voice in the back of my head like, it really didn’t need a sequel, but somebody probably needed money, which is really the worst kind of sequel to make. I awaited with cautious optimism, as it could be either way, and those are really the only two ways a sequel can go after so long after the original’s release.
And, as it turns out, after watching Punk’s Dead (Now streaming on Netflix) I can tell you it’s more of the latter one. Which is surprising to me after following the film’s progress from idea to movie on social media, where it was largely in part funded by Kickstarter, so it’s essentially a fan made production, and it’s written/directed by the original creator James Merendino, but even still I couldn’t feel the love in this movie like I could in the original.
If you’re wondering what the movie is about, it’s set 19 years after the events of the first movie, in 2005, where the son of the late Heroin Bob (Michael Goorijan, reprising his role from the first movie as the ghost narrator here) , Ross (Ben Schnetzer-Warcraft) is an old school Edgar Allen Poe type Goth, whom after getting his heart broken goes on a road trip with his friends Crash (rapper Machine Gun Kelly) and Penny (Hannah Marks-The Real O’Neals) go on a road trip to a punk concert wherein Ross gets drunk and does mushrooms for the first time and learns about life along the way.
Also intercut with Ross’ story is that of his mom Trish (played here by Sarah Clarke-Twilight) and her worrying about where her son is, and it’s here where we get appearances and supporting roles from returning cast members from the original movie including Devon Sawa, and James Duval.
The whole movie really felt disjointed, and atypical indie movie bs to be honest. At a runtime of only 1 hr 15 minutes, you never really get to know any of the characters enough to really care about them, and the jokes in this comedy drama never really hit home. There are a few good bits in this movie, as a fan of the original, like finding out what happened to some of the characters from the first movie, and a great scene with Devon Sawa and James Duval debating who would win in a Punjabi death match between Ross, Joey, and Chandler, best watched for their pronunciation of the Friends character Gunther as Gunter.
Also, I liked Machine Gun Kelly in this movie, which was kind of surprising to me, he’s not that bad an actor. But the rest of the movie felt forced, and awkward, characters have moments that just come out of nowhere at times, and there’s a whole bit at the end with a character making an awkard statement on stage to the audience at a rock concert that was handled better in a Chris Farley movie. Overall, this movie was just forgettable, and it’s really only worth watching if you’re a fan of the original, and are really bored and/or intoxicated. I’ll give it a 2.5 stars out of 5. ** 1/2
So guys, do you think cult classics could merit a sequel, or should they just quit while they’re ahead? Me personally I’d still like to see a well done Empire Records reunion movie. Til next time guys be sure to Keep it Reel.