A “bindlestiff” is hobo who carries a bindle – that is, the cloth bag on the end of stick with the hobo’s belongings in it. What does that have to do with this movie? Nothing. The film also purports to be three teenagers’ several-day living-out of J. D. Salinger’s seminal novel Catcher in the Rye. This, too, has nothing to do with the film’s plot. So what is this movie about? It is a raunchy, profanity-laced stepchild to far better films like Superbad – a film involving the growing-up of three teenage guys who want to visit the wild side but who fail miserably at doing so. This is the second collaboration between Phase 4 Films and director-producer-writer-actor Kevin Smith. Ignore this film and see their previous collaboration instead entitled Red State – another film about three teenagers with a far more interesting plot, real performances, a frightening unfolding of events, and great in-your-face filming.
The film follows three teens – Andrew, Luke, and John (played by writer and director Andrew Edison, Luke Locktin, and John Woo, respectively). Andrew has read Catcher in the Rye and become obsessed with Holden Caulfield even though Andrew’s not intellectually or spiritually deep enough to really understand the revolutionary novel. Luke is his best friend who is foul-mouthed and pretends to sexually advanced in order to help poor John who is virginal in every sense of the word. When the three are suspended from school for graffiti on a bathroom stall, the young men leave their respective homes and shack up in a dismal hotel while looking for a good time. Poor, sweet, unadulterated John is lovesick for his drama teacher and even attempts to get together with her, but cannot find her at home when his courage is at its height.
One ridiculous event is compounded by another as the guys try to live Caulfield’s life. Luke pretends to have relations with a battered and worn prostitute named Caramel. John has sex with a homeless woman who is beaten nearly to death by Luke who thinks she is assaulting John in a bus stop. When she awakens in their hotel room, the guys become nearly undone in their fast and furious decision as to what to do with her. Ultimately, they decide that she should have an abortion have they think she’s pregnant after putting a pregnancy test stick in her mouth as a thermometer. Andrew also finds himself smoking crack with a meth-head and the pimp that provided Caramel to the threesome in the first place. Luke also finds himself reunited with Caramel and tries to have a “real” relationship with her. It goes without saying that all three are stupid as hell – just like the film itself.
A subplot, if you can call it that, involves Charlie (Will Fordyce) who is the school security guard who believes the three teens are preparing to attack the school Columbine-style after misinterpreting their harmless and juvenile bathroom graffiti as a Catcher-in-the-Rye motivated attempt to shoot up the campus. He begins a relentless search for the teens, intent on stopping them from carrying out their supposed plot. The boys ultimately give him a taste of his own medicine when Charlie attacks them, killing the homeless woman whom John had tried to take under his wing after thinking he had impregnated her.
The ridiculous film is filled with gratuitous profanity, sexual situations, and asinine scenes filled with Edison, Locktin, and Woo’s absurd performances. Only John is barely worth watching as his sweetness and innocence is mildly interesting. It demeans the literary legacy of Catcher in the Rye as well as teenage angst films with something real to stay about changes to teen boys during their high school years. It is nonsensical from beginning to pathetic end. Avoid it at all costs.