SLC Punk 2 is more punk than SLC Punk 1

Writer and Director: James Merendino

Recommended? Yes.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “wait, they made a sequel to SLC Punk? Why would you watch that?” and believe me, that’s an understandable sentiment. I don’t entirely know how I stumbled upon the sequel, to be honest. But stumble upon it I did, and I even watched it, and more surprising of all: I even liked it.

Punk’s Dead: SLC Punk 2 not a better movie than SLC Punk. By most criteria, it’s objectively worse. It’s not as funny, it’s not as engaging. The plot is dangerously linear and the intentional stereotyping of the characters is more awkward (to put it lightly). The emotions are more subdued and some of the acting is worse. The copy I illegally downloaded had weird file errors that made it skip a couple seconds here and there and clearly that’s something I can blame the filmmakers for. But we all know “more punk” does not directly translate to “better.” So somehow, even though the main character isn’t a punk, the movie itself is leaps and bounds more punk.

SLC Punk 2 feels like those same punks got a chance to honestly reflect on growing up, parenting, selling out, and those who died in their glorious youths before life got in the way of purity.

For anyone who missed the first movie, SLC Punk 1 has just enough authenticity to feel real, but just enough bullshit to remind us that it’s not authentic at all. At the end of the movie, our anarchist protagonist decides to listen to his parents, quit subculture, and go become a non-anarchist lawyer. This, you understand, is a decidedly un-punk thing to do. (Turns out, in the real world you can be a lawyer and a punk and an anarchist or some combination of the three without any problems, which would be easy enough to depict except when you’re trying to sell the Hollywood bullshit stereotypes of anarchy and anarchists.)

SLC Punk 2 starts off nineteen years later and it’s the opposite story. Our protagonist is a pretentious bastard of a goth dandy who doesn’t drink but won’t call himself straight edge. He hops in a bitchin’ camaro with two punks and heads off to Salt Lake City to learn about life and figure out why, even though the musical subculture is outdated and the adherence to a dress code is bullshit, punk rock can still save your life. All the while, his aging goth mother and a slew of “practically-his-uncle” former punks from the first movie chase after him to make sure he’s okay.

SLC Punk 1 feels like some authentic punks tried to tell an authentic punk story and it got all fucked up in the process of being told. SLC Punk 2 feels like those same punks got a chance to honestly reflect on growing up, parenting, selling out, and those who died in their glorious youths before life got in the way of purity.

It’s not as much fun as the first movie, but watching it made me feel something. Our hero, the dandy, learns to move through nostalgia and come out on the other side, into the moment. Staying in the moment instead of being mired in the past is punk as fuck.

Plus that sellout lawyer ain’t in it. Good. That guy ain’t punk.

Addendum

“More punk” doesn’t mean “better” and not just in movie quality but also like… punk kind of sucks. This movie should have been about Penny. Penny is the super-punx girl who ends up in a predictable romantic subplot and is off to a punk show where some asshole on stage sings blatantly misogynist songs. The punks I came up with, who were still probably mostly misogynist shits themselves, would have literally waited in an alley to jump that singer after the show for being that bad of a misogynist shit. (People being kind of awful while also trying to be self-righteously good is punk as fuck.)

This review is 666 words long.

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