Suburbia

on February 07, 1997 by Christine James
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   Director Richard Linklater has an obsession with philosophizing slouchers, and it's getting old. Helmer of 1991's "Slacker," 1993's "Dazed and Confused" and 1995's "Before Sunrise," Linklater in "SubUrbia" seems unable to proceed beyond telling the story of pontificating teens and twentysomethings mired in inaction.
   The musing losers in this regurgitation of the theme are particularly abhorrent: the all-id, antagonizingly obnoxious Buff (Steve Zahn of "That Thing You Do!") is repellent at every angle; racist, bullying, booze-swilling air-force drop-out Tim (Nicky Katt) is equally devoid of redeeming qualities; Sooze (Amie Carey) is a passionate performance artist whose utter lack of talent makes her aspirations even more pathetic than the directionlessness of her cohorts; Bee-Bee (Dina Spybey) is a fragile teen alcoholic caught in a downward spiral of despair, the cause of which we're not privy to (making it difficult to sympathize); and Pony (Jayce Bartok), the only success story of the bunch, who has become a famous rock star but is still almost as disdain-inducing as the rest, as he is capable of writing only tripe. Jeff (Giovanni Ribissi) is the one person who sees the hopelessness for what it is, but he proves incapable of extricating himself from his situation. Instead, his life is spent hanging out with his wretched pals behind the Circle A (symbolizing an anarchy they're too lazy to enact).
   Although the actors do a good job portraying these parts, it's unclear what it is these characters possess that the audience is supposed to care enough about to invest two hours of their lives (which one hopes are significantly more fulfilling) in watching miserable personalities unfold onscreen. Starring Giovanni Ribisi, Steve Zahn, Amie Carey, Nicky Katt, Jayce Bartok and Parker Posey. Directed by Richard Linklater. Written by Eric Bogosian. Produced by Anne Walker-McBay. A Sony Classics release. Comedy/drama. Rated R for strong language including sex and drug references, teen drinking and brief nudity. Running time: 120 min. Screened at the New York fest
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