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Awesome: 38.24%
Worth A Look41.18%
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2 reviews, 22 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Would YOU Buy A Car From This Man?"
5 stars

Quick – think of the most reviled jobs in the world; the ones that inspire an instant lack of trust. Your lips may be moving but you certainly wouldn’t be lying if the first thing that popped out was that of car salesmen. The regard these people are held in is laid out pretty early in John Landis’ documentary, Slasher, as the next five things you see after the introduction of its protagonist are statements by Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush Jr. There’s no love lost for these people, trying to screw you at every turn. But there’s one you will meet in Slasher that you are transfixed by even if you don’t believe a word he’s uttering. Like Hitchcock once said, an audience will be in touch with any character if they’re good at their job. Michael Bennett is a character.

Bennett is on his way to a slasher sale in Memphis. His job is to help dealerships reduce their inventory by getting rid of stale merchandise at apparent bargains to their customers. “It’s a show, not a sale,” he tells us. Balloons and DJs entice the locals to come on down on Memorial Day weekend, the salesman’s dream. Of course, how do you sell pricey vehicles to the inhabitants of the bankruptcy capital of the world? Promise them the potential to win a car for only $88.

With the sales manager of the lot scornfully looking over his shoulder at every turn, Bennett is under pressure to move units at all costs. We’re given complete access to every piece of preparation for the weekend from the decisions how to mark the car prices (and the customers) to the pep talks to even the hiring of the pretty girls (in a scene both hilarious and not one to be a feminist’s favorite.) Where else will you see a restaurant with a sign saying “pork with an attitude?” This is a man’s world, baby, full of egos and corruption all coming together for one purpose – for you to sign on the line which is dotted.

The Glengarry Glen Ross reference is intentional as these are people you would expect to find in a David Mamet play. When Bennett waxes out his drunken pre-show philosophy in the middle of a parking garage, it actually sounds like something off of Mamet’s typewriter. His raspy voice defines a guy who has done nothing in his life but talk. 30 cars in a few days he brags he once sold. He knows the game of misinformation so well he recognizes it instantly when the girls talk to him in a strip club. Any actor would love to play this guy and could probably win an Oscar out of it.

But Bennett is not subhuman even if his job title stereotypes him as such. When one of his children (jokingly or not) asks “what’s breakfast?” we’d never think Bennett for the family man he truly is. He talks of his wife like a saint and his children a gift. Even his co-workers agree and can’t believe what a lucky man he is. When Bennett looks back on the job (well-done or not) he stops to pontificate about his family and its remarkably moving.

Slasher is enough to give anyone pause about buying their next car, but in the interim is going to make you laugh a lot. Bennett’s partners-in-crime share a hysterical love-hate relationship with each other from the soft spoken Kevin to the brash Mud who has mastered the art of the “I’ll go talk to my boss” scenario. If Slasher proves anything beyond what we already knew and the inside tactics we didn’t, its that we’re just as culpable in the greedy sweepstakes of life. Who wouldn’t show up for no other intention but to win the $88 car? The scene where a family brags about their winning to the neighborhood is hilariously balanced with the look on their daughter’s face whom the car is meant for.

In an interview, John Landis says that Dan Aykroyd called the film “a thick slice of Americana.” Maybe Danny should get into the salesman racket himself since it’s a rather accurate description. Downhome middle-class individuals are in negotiations with other middle-class workers all vying for a small piece of that middle coupled with goats trying to get a swig of beer through a fence. At first glance, Michael Bennett may not be the guy you want to spend longer than a sales pitch with, but as he says in the film it’s all about “what you think you’re getting,” not what you actually get. Only in America.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8854&reviewer=198
originally posted: 03/10/04 21:26:05
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Minneapolis/St.Paul Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Minneapolis/St.Paul Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/11/06 Joseph P. Hughes Mr. Bennett has a difficult job and it is wearing him down. Good soundtrack. 4 stars
4/30/06 Dani Scott Hes my F@**king hero 5 stars
4/09/06 Jammer This flick is a diamond in the rough! My fav indie film of all time! 5 stars
8/17/05 the actual mudd movie was great,cause I am in it.thanx again mr landis. 5 stars
1/22/05 Jeff Anderson Now this the John Landis film I've been waiting for. GREAT DOCUMENTARY AND BLUES SOUNDTRACK 5 stars
8/03/04 Jean check it out, it's entertaining. Also great score 4 stars
7/22/04 john pratt it was a good film cause the acting was great. i might go see it again. 4 stars
6/30/04 Dealer I give it an A+ for Authentic view of the business! 5 stars
6/25/04 Larry Hultberg EXit Realty What a great look behind the scenes of a used car co. very well done 4 stars
6/25/04 HOlly VanScoy Interesting. 4 stars
6/21/04 Stuart Good Movie Wish the sale was more successful 4 stars
6/21/04 Jay Absolutely brillliant! Superb soundtrack! 5 stars
6/20/04 Ron Evensen A slice of life indeed. Just proves why the Framers didn't trust democracy. 4 stars
6/20/04 sandra Interesting glimpse of this man and his life. Wish we could have see him after the sale. 4 stars
6/19/04 Embo Terrific little movie! Fascinating, funny -- and oddly even a little moving. 4 stars
5/20/04 The Grinch Similar to American Movie...brash yet endearing protaganist, the baldheaded dj guy ruled 4 stars
4/08/04 The Slasher thought it was good but we missed alot, U-cant bottle lighting at one sale. Memphis great 4 stars
3/16/04 The Slasher thought it was good but we missed alot, U-cant bottle lighting at one sale. Memphis great 4 stars
3/16/04 Rachel Joseph I really enjoyed SLASHER. I thought it was very real, sad, and insightful. 4 stars
3/14/04 Boombah Baby It was aight. A little long. 3 stars
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  19-Jun-2004 (NR)
  DVD: 13-Jul-2004



Directed by
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