'Punk's Dead: SLC Punk 2': Film Review

Courtesy of James Merendino/Tom Calloway
A much-belated sequel some evidently wanted but few will enjoy.
2/11/2016

With a dead dad named Heroin Bob, how much can you expect from life?

"Punk's Dead" is an odd title for a movie that devotes a big chunk of its screen time to a massive concert starring a half-dozen or so punk bands. But then there's plenty to raise an eyebrow at in James Merendino's 17-years-later sequel to a movie whose cult status one may have to take his word for. As that film's star Matthew Lillard evidently preferred voicing Scooby Doo cartoons to revisiting his role as purple-haired protagonist Stevo, Merendino finds himself building a movie around Stevo's pal Heroin Bob, who rather inconveniently died in the first film. Bob's from-beyond narration may amuse SLC Punk's most ardent fans, some of whom crowdfunded this outing, but few newbies will greet it warmly in what's sure to be a brief theatrical spin.

Bob (Michael Goorjian) addresses the camera from some desolate corner of the afterlife, spitting out a "here's what happened" intro that sadly continues throughout the film. Goorjian's aggressively cute-aleck delivery grates from the start, and when he stops the action to introduce returning characters or philosophize about the diversity of punk styles, one wonders who his imagined listener is.

Bob explains that, just before he died, he sired a son with Trish (Annabeth Gish in the first film, Sarah Clarke in this one). Young Ross (Ben Schnetzer), a teetotalling goth-ish misfit, has just had his heart broken and is going on the first bender of his life, driving across Utah to a concert with pals Crash (Colson Baker) and Penny (Hannah Marks) while ingesting whatever he can get ahold of.

Worried about her son, Trish sends out a call to some characters from the first movie (John the Mod, Sean and Eddie), all of whom claim to be "like an uncle" to the boy. Though a chase might be wanting to ensue here, Merendino has something considerably less dramatic in mind, bouncing from Ross' road trip back to Trish & co. for misshapen little scenes that mainly seem designed to prove that some of his original cast members were willing to come back.

Ross's travails are more pitiable than comic, and from costume design to script and editing the picture does little to make his world believable, or even a fun nonsense land in which we might want to spend 75 minutes. Odds seem good that few of those who enjoyed the first movie enough to pay for a sequel will be clamoring for more after waiting 17 years for this.

Distributor: Cinedigm
Production company: Liberty Spikes Productions
Cast: Ben Schnetzer, Hannah Marks, Colson "MGK" Baker, Sarah Clarke, Devon Sawa, Michael Goorjian, Adam Pascal, James Duval
Director-screenwriter-editor: James Merendino
Producer: Andrea Kreuzhage
Executive producer: John Bedell
Director of photography: Thomas L. Callaway
Production designer-xostume designer: Fiora Kirschbaum
Casting director: Susan Shopmaker

Not rated, 75 minutes

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