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James Merendino
Matthew Lillard, Michael Goorjian, Annabeth Gish
Writing Credits:
James Merendino

In the early 1980s Stevo and Heroin Bob are the only two dedicated punks in conservative Salt Lake City.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Dolby Vision
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $299.99
Release Date: 11/22/2022
Available Only As Part of 11-Film “Sony Pictures Classics 30th Anniversary” Set

• Audio Commentary with Director James Merendino and Actors Matthew Lillard and Michael Goorjian
• “SLC Punk Revisited” Featurette
• Comic Book Gallery
• Trailers


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


SLC Punk [4K UHD] (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 23, 2022)

Before a screener of 1998’s SLC Punk came across my doorstep years ago, I don't think I'd ever even heard of the film. I might have seen some mention of it on other websites, but that was the extent of my knowledge before I watched it.

A film about punks in Salt Lake City during the mid-1980s? Hmm - looked like another stinker from the freebie pile.

Happily, however, I found SLC Punk to be surprisingly provocative and entertaining. While its subject matter certainly held the possibility that it would be a corny film that would try far too hard to milk the "fish out of water" theme implied by the title, it didn't do so.

Set in Utah circa 1985, Steveo (Matthew Lillard) just finished college. However, despite his father’s (Christopher McDonald) desire for him to go to law school, Stevo prefers to hang out with his friends and embrace the nihilistic punk lifestyle.

This leads Steveo, best buddy Heroin Bob (Michael A. Goorjian) and others on various misadventures. Eventually matters lead down paths that force Steve-O to become more serious about life and the future.

To my surprise, SLC Punk offers little that sticks to the aforementioned “fish out of water” concept. Instead, the film was more of a "coming of age" story that ultimately reminded me of many of those John Hughes movies from the 1980s.

Though that might imply that SLC Punk will become trite, instead it seems less predictable and routine than the average genre tale. Indeed, I didn't actually figure out that it would take that "coming of age" route until more than halfway through the picture, as up until that point, it seemed more like a fun comedic romp through the characters' lives.

The film slows down a great deal as it becomes more real toward the end. This makes the movie less frenetic and wildly entertaining, but it also addes a level of realism.

I must admit that I find some of the twists and turns to seem contrived. However, these don't detract from my overall enjoyment of the movie.

SLC Punk clearly doesn’t deliver a perfect film - or even a great one - but it's very good and can be quite entertaining. I like the fact that although it easily could go the "period piece" route, it doesn't do so.

Indeed, the film barely reveals its era. If we weren't told it was 1985 and occasionally reminded that Reagan was in the White House, it could have been from any year between 1979 and today.

That's because of the strange quality of punks: they're eternally stuck in the late 1970s. I think punks are like goths, as there'll always be this little cult of teens who buy into that look and sound and it'll never change.

Despite various bits of publicity, punks never had all that big a scene, and their image has not changed one iota since they emerged in the mid-1970s. That means that the characters of SLC Punk easily could be in a film set today but little would need to be changed, as right now there are teens out there who look and act exactly like these folks.

Happily, SLC Punk doesn't take too many cheap shots at its locale, either. As I mentioned earlier, the concept of punks in Salt Lake City (aka "The Conservativist Place On Earth") easily could have been milked for broad laughs at the expense of the locals, but the film rarely does that.

Again, just as our characters could be from any year in the last 45, the location could be almost anywhere in the US. Yeah, it had to be somewhere not too hip, but that appellation fits the vast majority of the country.

Ultimately, the film concentrates more on the quirks of its characters and their stories than it does the locale and the premise. In that way, it's a lot like something such as Pulp Fiction, as much of the entertainment in that film came from interactions that had little to do with the characters' careers ways of life.

SLC Punk doesn’t reside on a level with Pulp Fiction, but it's awfully witty and clever nonetheless. Much of the film's energy came from a charged performance by Matthew Lillard as our lead character Stevo.

I'm not sure Lillard has much of a range, as he sure likes to mug and go over the top. However, he works well here.

Lillard brings just the right level of smugness and obnoxiousness to Stevo but still kept him likable. He also allows for growth in the character when necessary.

Goorjian is also quite good as Stevo's buddy Heroin Bob. He portrays him as goofy and sort of dopey but nicely grounded and human as well.

Chalk up SLC Punk as a pleasant surprise. A period piece that doesn’t reek of nostalgia and a “coming of age” tale that mostly lacks sentimentality, Punk provides a funny and entertaining flick.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

SLC Punk appears in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Expect a quality Dolby Vision image here.

Sharpness worked well overall. A little softness crept into the occasional wide shot, but the majority of the flick felt accurate and distinctive.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain seemed light but natural, and print flaws remained absent.

Colors went with a natural palette, albeit one on the low-key side. Still, the hues looked positive, with some that popped on occasion, and HDR added impact and punch to the tones.

Blacks felt deep and rich, while shadows were smooth and clear. HDR brought range and pop to whites and contrast. Expect a very appealing presentation from the 4K.

Given the flick’s low budget and subject matter, I expected little from its DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, but the film actually displayed a surprisingly broad spectrum. Music dominated the mix and presented very good stereo imaging as well as solid reinforcement from the surrounds.

Effects didn’t play as major a role, but they added some nice dimensionality to the proceedings. A few sequences like one with a gun and another with a perceived nuclear blast brought the action to life well.

In addition, the movie often created a good sense of atmosphere and place. Localization and blending were positive, and the surrounds gave us fine depth.

Audio quality was generally fine, though speech seemed like the weakest link. The lines consistently sounded intelligible and usually were acceptably natural, but they came across as somewhat flat and dull more than just a few times.

Music appeared pretty crisp and vibrant, as both the songs and score sounded rich and detailed. Effects seemed accurate and free from defects, and the whole package presented solid bass response as necessary. Expect a pretty engaging soundtrack here.

A few extras appear, and we open with an audio commentary from director James Merendino and actors Matthew Lillard and Michael Goorjian, all of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific track. (Note that Lillard arrives late and Goorjian leaves early.)

We find a very loose and fun affair as all parties crack on each other and various aspects of the film. Actually, Goorjian mainly stays on the sidelines as Lillard and Merendino hassle each other, and it's very entertaining.

Quite a few good notes about the movie emerge between the jokes, as we learn about the structure, how the actors worked, and other useful elements. We learn a lot about film in this enjoyable commentary.

By the way, keep an ear out to hear Merendino bite the hand that feeds him when he talks about co-executive producer Jan De Bont. His moderately nasty remarks seem semi-tongue in cheek, but not terribly - you be the judge!

New to the 4K, SLC Punk Revisited runs 12 minutes, 14 seconds. Here Merendino discusses the project’s origins and development, story/characters, cast and performances, a few production specifics and the movie’s release.

Inevitably, some content from the commentary repeats, and it disappoints that we get no one other than Merendino. Still, the featurette brings some useful notes.

In addition to two trailers and a TV spot, the disc finishes with a Comic Book Gallery. This cartoon look at the characters becomes pretty interesting and it definitely worth a look.

As a film, SLC Punk feels flawed but fun and makes for a surprisingly entertaining viewing experience. Not everyone will love it – it seems too outrageous and profane for that - but for those who enjoy that style of clever comedic filmmaking, it should do the trick. The 4K UHD comes with very good picture and audio along with a handful of useful bonus materials. This turns into a quality presentation for a consistently enjoyable flick.

Note that as of November 2022, this 4K UHD disc of SLC Punk appears solely via an 11-film “Sony Picture Classics 30th Anniversary” box. It also includes Orlando, Celluloid Closet, City of Lost Children, Run Lola Run, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Devil’s Backbone, Volver, Synecdoche, New York, Still Alice and Call Me By Your Name.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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