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The Cricket
Sean P. Means
Sean is the movie critic and columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @moviecricket.

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Matthew Lillard plays Steve-O, the lead character in the 1999 comedy "SLC Punk."
‘SLC Punk’ picked for Sundance’s final outdoor screening at Red Butte

The people of Utah have spoken, and they want their homegrown punk rockers.

The 1999 rock comedy "SLC Punk" will close out the Sundance Institute’s Outdoor Summer Series, screening Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 9 p.m., at Red Butte Garden, 300 Wakara Way, University of Utah campus, Salt Lake City.

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"SLC Punk," which had its world premiere at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, was the clear favorite of residents of four Utah counties (Salt Lake, Summit, Utah and Wasatch) in an online ballot. It beat two music documentaries that also premiered at the Sundance Film Festival: 2012’s "Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap," co-directed by Ice-T; and the 2008 concert film "U2 3D."

James Merendino, the director-writer of "SLC Punk," was flattered by the fan support — but remains mystified about his movie’s continued popularity.

"I have absolutely no idea why it has endured 15 years later," Merendino said in a recent phone interview, ahead of Monday’s announcement. "It’s hard to understand why something becomes a cult movie. … It struck a chord, and every new generation watches it."

Merendino based "SLC Punk" on his own experiences growing up in Salt Lake City’s punk scene in the 1980s. It stars Matthew Lillard and Michael A. Goorgian as Steve-o and Heroin Bob, punk roommates engaged in the punk life and always on guard against posers.

One measure of the movie’s cult status, Merendino said, is the number of people who have shown him their "SLC Punk"-related tattoos.

"Some girl said to me, ‘Oh my God, you’re James Merendino,’ and she had tattooed one of the characters on her thigh," Merendino said. "Of course, it was Heroin Bob."

"The most popular is ‘666’ on the butt, because it’s in the movie," he said, adding that other tattoos feature quotes from the movie, with "Only posers fall in love" one of the most used.

Merendino is hard at work editing "Punk’s Dead," a sort-of sequel to "SLC Punk" that he filmed in Utah this summer. (Merendino recently cut an NSFW teaser for the film and posted it online.) He aims to finish post-production by November, just in time to submit to Sundance and other festivals.

"It’s more than a sequel," he said. "You don’t have to have seen the first one to get it."



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