God knows what made John Savage appear in “The Anarchist Cookbook,” an ill-conceived effort that starts OK but quickly goes off the rails. Current dissent-quashing mood makes market even less receptive than usual to bomb-throwing rebels, but pic is a decent calling-card for helmer-scripter Jordan Susman, who keeps a large cast in motion.
The world isn’t exactly waiting for late-twentysomethings to look back nostalgically at their early 20s, and this amble down a garbage-strewn memory lane has more problems than most. Susman shares with Richard Linklater, Wes Anderson and Mike Judge some of their Texas-underbelly attitude, but is entirely too colored by sitcom rhythms to claim his own territory. Plot concerns a Dallas bookstore collective that doubles as an anarchist cell, with both led by old hippie Johnny Red (Savage) until nihilist Johnny Black (Dylan Bruno) comes into the fold, eventually turning laid-back pot-puffers into strung-out crank-heads. Protag Puck (Devon Gummersall) sees it all, when not distracted by his affair with a young Republican (Katharine Towne) who dabbles in S&M. Plot hits rote melodramatic notes, and everyone looks more like actors than WTO protesters.