At the Movies

This time, we spotlight Slackers.

Sleeper college comedy Slackers makes liberal use of a cappella, including an opening sequence rendition of The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly,” and, perhaps most memorably, a visitation of Ace of Base’s “The Sign” that marks a watershed moment in the film during which a lifelong slacker Dave finally gets motivated to spring into action.

The use of a cappella in this film may seem arbitrary at first, but on closer inspection, is pivotal to setting. The film is all about college hijinx—scamming, slacking, getting mixed up in screwball situations. The application of a cappella highlights the form as quintessential part of the contemporary college experience. Even those who are not fans of a cappella are bound to come across it, and bound to remember a time when a cappella chords rang in the background of some sort of moment in their formative years.

Better yet, the soaring vocals of the rendition of “The Sign” we hear in this scene are befitting a revelation—they transform a dated song into something unique, purposeful, and inspiring (albeit a bit contrived in the context).

I saw the sign. And it opened up my eyes.