Director/Writer: Andrew Edison
Starring John Karna, Luke Loftin, Andrew Edison
The title of this film comes from an old word meaning hobo. The main distinction of this film is that it was “presented” by Kevin Smith. Other than this, it’s an extremely low budget and rather amateurish indie film that is part comedy, part drama and part random weirdness.
As someone who mainly watches indie films, often obscure ones, I am usually fairly tolerant of offbeat stories without a linear plot. Nor am I a reviewer who is a stickler for political correctness. This one, however, left a bad taste in my mouth, mainly for the way it portrays a homeless person as a faceless, purely symbolic entity who exists solely as a prop in the lives of a group of suburban teens.
Bindlestiffs is about three teenagers (Karna, Loftin and writer/director Edison) who are suspended from high school when they protest the banning of The Catcher in the Rye. This book has long been a symbol of teenage angst and rebellion and, more recently, associated with mass murderers (a fact that becomes relevant to the story).
The three friends embark on a trip to the big city where they intend to experience as much as possible, sex included of course. This is extremely familiar movie territory, but Bindlestiffs is no typical Hollywood teen movie. Unfortunately, it ends up being even more inane and less coherent than the average entry in this genre.
Things get really weird when one of the kids has a sexual encounter with a homeless woman, who then apparently dies. The three drag her body around but before they can dispose of it, she comes back to life. Yet she has no lines, and we never see her face -only a tangled mess of gray hair. For the rest of the film, they carry and drive her around as though she was a mannequin. Even if you do find this amusing, the joke would start to wear thin after an hour or so of this.
There are other scenes involving a hooker and one of the teens smoking crack. Yet none of it seems real. It’s more like a series of disjointed fantasy sequences, dreamed up by a group of sheltered teens with little experience beyond the suburbs.
Another ill formed character is the high school security guard, who plays the stereotype gung ho military type. He is actually funny at first, but gradually devolves into a silly parody. He comes up with a paranoid idea that the kids are planning a school shooting. This could have led to some dark humor, but this is a thread that gets forgotten as the film reaches its pointless conclusion.
I seldom actively dislike low budget indie films, but this one really annoyed me for a few reasons. The dehumanizing of the “hobo” was one factor, and then there were the constant references to The Catcher in the Rye -as if merely mentioning this book could somehow prop up the film and give it depth and meaning.
If you want lightweight teenage rebellion, stick with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which may not be profound but is at least entertaining.