James Merendino - Punk's Dead: SLC Punk 2 [film] (Cover Artwork)

James Merendino

Punk's Dead: SLC Punk 2 [film] (2016)


During my formative "punk" years, I would search different variations of "punk rock" and immediately seek out the results. One song tagged ‘punk’ that populated every Napster search was The Suicide Machines’ “I Never Promised You A Rose Garden” in big part due to its feature in SLC Punk, a cult classic highlighting two teenage punks from 1985 Salt Lake City making their way through life caught between the drudge of oncoming adulthood and a permanent punk rock mindset. It had everything I wanted – parents questioning hairstyle choices, pledges to never sell out, punk rock parties, and anarchy symbols.

Fast forward years later to 2016, I found myself hurrying out of work still in my suit to stand in line with a bunch of studded jacket clad, red haired punks waiting to get in to a limited showing of Punk's Dead: SLC Punk 2, the long awaited, crowd funded sequel being screened across the country.

Punk's Dead: SLC Punk 2 picks up in Ogden, Utah in 2005 where Heroin Bob’s overdose left bohemian queen Trish as a single mother raising their death obsessed now teenager Ross. Right from the start, you notice the references to today’s punk scene: PBR being the beer of choice, Lord of The Rings jokes, SuicideGirls-esque references, and today’s classic punk bands (think NOFX and Rancid). Heroin Bob serves as the narrator in flash back scenes that help fill in the gaps in the plot. Also returning from the original are Eddie, Jon the Mod, and Sean who, in a storyline that hits a little too close to home, works for a State Senator, but still can’t give up being a punk.

The storyline centers on a road trip Ross takes with friends Crash and Penny after he finds himself heartbroken. Throughout the trip, Ross enjoys his first alcoholic drinks and unknowingly eats a handful of shrooms, bringing back memories of Stevo and Heroine Bob’s adventures. The movie succeeds in the same ways as the original. The most poignant scenes include the relatable life experiences all young punks go through – parents questioning your fashion sense, the thrill of your first experience in a mosh pit, and arguing over the nuances of punk rock. One of the hardest hitting scenes comes when Penny confronts her father in a gas station hinting at an abusive relationship that underscores her character.

While I found myself enjoying the movie throughout, there were a few scenes that didn’t set right. The movie chose to use the word “faggot” multiple times, and while I’m sure teenagers in 2005 used it more freely than today, it seemed unnecessary. In addition, there was an undercurrent of sexism surrounding Trish’s character hinting at an active sex life that’s more bad joke than empowering.

Comparing the two movies, you could see the parallels to what I discovered in 1998 and who this movie is aimed at. While enjoyable, it mostly made me want to connect to it in the same way I did as the original – which is unfair given my approaching 30. At last, maybe I too have just become a goddamn, trendy ass poseur?