Richard Linklater may have made a splash with his 1991 debut Slacker, but fourteen years later, it remains an exercise in meandering self-importance. A series of barely-connected vignettes in which Austin, Texas 20-somethings discuss alternate realities, then-prez George Bush, JFK’s assassination, and the symbolic nature of the Smurfs, Linklater’s film captures the nonchalant lack of purpose that supposedly characterized college-age “Gen X” hipsters. The problem is that his characters – if narcissistic, one-dimensional talking heads can be labeled as such – are uniformly grating, and their supposedly quirky conversations about Scooby-Doo and Madonna’s pap smear create an atmosphere of unbearable pretentiousness. Unlike his animated 2001 mind-bender Waking Life, Slacker has neither any overriding thematic preoccupations nor a cohesive narrative thread tying its random scenes together, and the film’s cinematographic blandness merely augments its monotony. As a result, this early indie hit becomes a test of one’s tolerance for not-very-colorful individuals blathering on about whatever random nonsense pops into their heads. If I wanted to listen to coffeehouse-type intellectuals shallowly pontificating on uninteresting socio-political subjects, however, I’d just head to the nearest Starbucks.