Directed by Dewey Nicks, starring Jason Schwartzman, James King, Jason Segel, Michael Maronna, Devon Sawa, Laura Prepon and Mamie Van Doren.

It took four years to complete the script for new teen comedy 'Slackers', which is a pity for all involved because half an hour into this and you'll be thinking "what a waste of time, energy and money". There's little evidence that it has been a waste of talent. Admittedly, the gross-out teen comedy formula was on its last legs anyway, but director Dewey Nicks has ruthlessly pulled the plug on the life support. And that's probably not a bad thing, because nobody should have to sit through such execrable muck again. Ever.

Dave (Sawa), Jeff (Moranna) and Sam (Segel) are the three eponymous layabouts who have navigated their way through university using every illicit trick in the unwritten guide to college cheating. Now in their final year, these double-dealing dossers are looking forward to graduating with their usual A+ average when their plans are dealt a severe blow by nerdy freak Ethan (Schwartzman). When Cool Ethan, as he likes to call himself, discovers Dave in the midst of yet another exam scam and retains the evidence to prove it, he threatens to have Dave & co exposed as the con-men they are – thus wrecking their chances of graduating. Unless…

Ethan, a despicable little creep and borderline stalker, demands the three tricksters set him up with the object of his (sick) obsession, brainy beauty Angela (King). Forced with no choice but to try and carry off the charade, things go smoothly enough until, yawn, Dave and Angela fall for each other. You really won't care what happens next.

'Slackers' contains some moments of black "comedy" which are so unfunny and putrid they'd make you fearful for the well-being of those who thought of them. The Farrellys taught us that you could be disgusting and funny, but you really have to wonder how on earth anyone, anywhere could have thought they'd make audiences guffaw with a script as utterly diabolical as this. Even the visuals are uninspiring, and fail to offer anything new on the clichéd college campus look.

Performance wise, Jason Schwartzman should have given the grotesque Ethan a wide berth and would be well advised to fire his agent. Then again, as Nicolas Cage can testify, you can afford quite a few turkeys when you're the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola. Elsewhere, Devon Sawa (who plays Stan in the video for the Eminem song) does little to mark himself out of the crowd and Michael Maronna is moronically maddening. Only Jason Segel, who is easily the least annoying slacker, and James King escape the sorry mess unscathed – except, perhaps, for the psychological trauma of having to do garbage like this to raise your profile.

If American college life consisted of meeting students like these every day of your purgatorial existence, methinks many would opt for the working life straight away. The real thing couldn't be nearly as bad as this suggests. 'Slackers' is a prime example of just how awful the cinematic experience can be. Truly, this is an absolute stinker.

Tom Grealis