Yesterday’s radicals are today’s mainstream, or as a former hippie tells his punked out son “I didn’t sell out, I bought in.” That’s essentially the anthem of “SLC Punk.” The SLC in question is Salt Lake City, the conservative Mormon city of the Midwest. The punks are a pair of hair challenged transplants who seek to define themselves against the waning 1980s and the constraints of their stodgy surroundings.
What begins as a poetically offbeat comedy, full of energy and verve, turns woefully mundane as the protagonists become introspective and enlightened. Matthew Lillard and Michæl A. Goorjian play the colorful thrashers. They’ve just graduated college where they failed to bring down “the system” and are now content to shelve themselves as the ushers of anarchy. There’s not too much to their caricatures except a smattering of acerbically witty diatribes and a handful of raucous misadventures, each instigated by drugs and resulting in physical altercation. Lillard, who brought his likable, frenetic presence to “Scream” and “She’s All That,” is pretty much on the money here. The rest of the cast (including Annabeth Gish and Christopher McDonald as Lillard’s dad) get some gleefully black moments too and the edgy, in-your-face soundtrack is one infectious adrenaline rush, it’s just too bad that “SLC Punk” decides to get sober, serious and self-reflective.