"I THINK YOU SHOULD GO BACK AND WATCH THE film again." This is the first thing I hear SLC Punk director James Merendino snap at the journalist ahead of me, as they wind down what I can only imagine was the worst interview of her life. I'm next. Great. SLC Punk is a film about Reagan-era punks, made by a Reagan-era punk, who is currently parked on a couch in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel. I sit down and he scowls: "What's your story?" I explain that I'm a music writer, here to interview him about his movie--and he smiles. Instantly, the tough guy crap is gone. This is what he wants, a music fan--because that's what SLC Punk is all about. "Fuck film critics," he says.

With him is one of the film's stars, Michael Goorjian, whom most might recognize as the guy that Party of Five's Julia lost her virginity to. Goorjian suggests we all go outside for a cigarette, and suddenly, we're publicist- and assistant-free. We stand on the corner of Fourth and Olive, smoking our heads off, talking about bands and music and how fucking great it was to see a show that scares the shit out of you--like going to see the Dwarves. SLC Punk is about a punk kid growing up in Salt Lake City, and it's basically Merendino's life story: rebellion, feeling out of place, growing up in a dumb town and wondering how to get out. It stars Matthew Lillard (Scream) as Stevo, a post-college guy who loves the Dead Kennedys and the Ramones and thinks anarchy is a religion. His father wants him to go to law school.

But that's the least of what SLC Punk is about. Really, it's about the music, and what it means to be a fan. It's about the stupid things you say when you're young, and the stupid things you believe are driving your life, no matter how fast you're careening in the opposite direction. It's funny and sad and above all, smart. As the original director of Idle Hands, Merendino had the wits to recognize a piece of crap when he saw it, so he walked--and made his own movie instead.

"We didn't even talk about the movie," says Merendino as we walk back inside the Mayflower an hour later. "That's cool. That's what it's all about."

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