A car thief gets out on parole from a penitentiary and intends to go straight. Nonetheless, he ends up in a wild goose chase for stolen cash, together with a small-time bandleader and his wi... Read allA car thief gets out on parole from a penitentiary and intends to go straight. Nonetheless, he ends up in a wild goose chase for stolen cash, together with a small-time bandleader and his wife, and a friendly free-spirited woman.A car thief gets out on parole from a penitentiary and intends to go straight. Nonetheless, he ends up in a wild goose chase for stolen cash, together with a small-time bandleader and his wife, and a friendly free-spirited woman.
An off-beat comedic classic rarely seen
"Slither" is a perfect, subversive, character-driven comedy that in its own way belongs in the same category as "Pocket Money." Both are sly, low-key studies of American losers, with McGuffins in both films merely serving as excuses for the characters to bump up against each other and to wrestle with their sweet, ever-lasting ineptitude. Not the least of "Slithers"'s triumphs is its perfect cast. Could any film fan in his right mind have imagined James Caan, Peter Boyle, Sally Kellerman, Allen Garfield, Richard B. Schull, and Alex Rocco (the latter was "Moe Green" in "The Godfather") in the same movie? Caan is wonderful as a laconic, recently released con whose brief visit with an old friend turns into a comedic nightmare involving murder, the hunt for a bag of money, and continuing sinister goings-on. The plot, which isn't meant to be taken seriously, never gets in the way of the picture's real interest: examining the human off-kilteredness that lies just inches below the surface of American life. Boyle steals the film as a classic American type, the small-town third-rate entertainer who performs masterfully at Kiwanis Club dances and similar venues. His patented shtick while emceeing an event is so breathtakingly awful, you either want to condole with him or grab a barf bag. Kellerman is equally good as every man's worst nightmare, a nut case who is likely to remind many males in the audience of a certain former girlfriend known briefly. To Caan's--and our--astonishment, she goes from intriguingly sexy to nutty to dangerously nutty in all of 15 minutes of screen time; nor can he get rid of her once he's bedded her. Louise Lasser's role is small and offers her less opportunity to shine, but she's perfect as Boyle's loyal, compliant wife who never seems to know that she's married to a squirm-inducing jerk. Script and direction mesh perfectly, and Caan is terrific as an unflappable stoic who seems to have wandered into the wrong film by mistake and finds himself confronted with one outrageous situation after another. It feels cathartic when he finally lets go and belts Kellerman towards the end of the movie. An A+ for this exceptional off-beat "little" film that one day may be rediscovered and hailed as a classic of its kind.
- Jul 16, 2000
Contribute to this page
Suggest an edit or add missing content