Slackers, Stoners and Scanners: Richard Linklater's Films, Ranked

In honor of his epic 'Boyhood' hitting theaters, we rank all of this pioneering indie filmmaker's work from worst to best

17

'The Newton Boys' (1998)

20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection

This ambitious comedy/drama/gangster film about a real-life family of bank robbers in the 1920s certainly means well, and the notion of Linklater taking on an old-school, star-studded epic sounds great on paper. But the indie filmmaker's strengths are mismatched to the story he's trying to tell, and his characteristically laid-back style gives way to a forced boisterousness that feels way off. Though his best movies give their casts plenty of room to roam, he's clearly a little too in love with his Newton crew (Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Julianna Marguiles, Vincent D'Onofrio, Skeet Ulrich) to restrain them; the result quickly ends up tipping into actorly self-indulgence. Add in a rather overbearing use of contemporaneous music and a cavalier attitude to plot development, and you wind up with a movie where the past doesn't really come alive so much as get trotted out like sepia-toned show pony. Period pieces are rarely Linklater’s strong suit, and you can kind of see why here. Even he tends to cringe whenever the film is mentioned.

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