review for SLC Punk on AllMovie

SLC Punk (1999)
by Richard Gilliam review

One of the better entries in the '80s-as-nostalgia genre, SLC Punk is more structured, and thus more conventional, than many of its alternative-lifestyle predecessors. The film's strong points are Matthew Lillard's fine lead performance as Steveo and the convincing sense of time and place evoked by writer/director James Merendino. What doesn't work is the predictability of the plot. Fans of Trainspotting, in particular, will be able to guess at least two of the surprises as the story develops. Nor does the film begin to reach the punk heights of Sid and Nancy, though it does cleverly use references to the Sex Pistols as comedic fodder. Perhaps because it's so comparatively structured for the subject matter it covers, SLC Punk has a surprising lack of stylistic flair. On the other hand, the film benefits from underplaying the contrast between the punk lifestyle and the Mormon-dominated culture of Salt Lake City, UT. Overall this is a good film, with interesting characters and strong use of location, but it doesn't quite climb to classic status.