Full-blooded characters, pulsating dialogue and a Sonic Youth soundtrack would usually ensure a film cult status or, at the very least, a position as one of the better Hollywood indie offerings of the year. But in this case it won't. Somewhere along the line, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong with Suburbia.
Bogosian's script, based on the play of the same name, grapples with serious issues - - alcoholism, violence, racism and the like - - but the whole shebang has been done better before. Cast your mind back, if you will, to the inspiring Rebel Without A Cause, the surreal Burton fairytale Edward Scissorhands, or even Linklater's previous effort, Dazed And Confused. All these dealt with suburban angst in a more powerful, humorous, and realistic way. Linklater hit the nail on the head with Dazed And Confused, but he's missed it by a mile with Suburbia. A kicking, bitching reality check? No. More a sleepy, tiring bucket of pap.
Suburbia does contain some well-drawn, three-dimensional characters, but it's clear that the director doesn't know what to do with them. The talented cast do their very best to make the most of what's on offer, but what should have been a quirky character study only ever amounts to a poor man's Clerks, without any of the wit, clever dialogue and quirky appeal.
Suburbia's worst punishment is its length. Seemingly set on making his audience suffer, Linklater spins his bum-number of a wishy-washy flick out for two hours. This might be his subtle way of ramming home the tedium of suburban life - or perhaps he just nodded off in the editing room and forgot to chop 40 minutes out of the final cut. Either way, any potential that the script had has been lost, and the result is a film that's guaranteed to give you nightmare after nightmare of being arse-glued to a cinema seat that's cemented into a parking lot with a grand view of a dingy convenience store. And you can do that with a chair and a 7/11 for free.