Dazed and Confused (1993)

Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Jason London, Rory Cochrane, Wiley Wiggins (LOL!), Sasha Jenson, Michelle Burke, Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp, Matthew McConaughey, Marissa Ribisi, Shawn Andrews, Cole Hauser, Milla Jovovich, Joey Lauren Adams, Christin Hinojosa, and Ben Affleck

Every now and then, my good friend Stacy will introduce me to a film that I really should have seen years ago and will regret that I didn’t massively. The trend began with Ferris Buellers’ Day Off about three years ago, and continued right up to True Lies which we saw quite recently. The latest addition, and possibly my favourite to date, is the incredibly light-hearted, retro party film Dazed and Confused. Thank you Stacy.

The Plot:
It’s the last day of school in May, 1976. The students of Lee High School in Austin, Texas, are preparing for a blow out party to celebrate the end of term. Along the way, they will do some drugs, get pretty drunk, and put the freshman kids through a series of bizarre initiation rituals, all the while looking to the future with a strong sense of hope.

Some films are easier to watch than others. Films such as, say, Apocalypse Now (while a stellar film) do not make for easy viewing. Picture the scene: you have some friends over, and you just want to ‘throw something on’, maybe while having a few drinks. Well what better to watch than a movie about some kids hanging out, and having a few drinks?

Do not mistake the above statement for sarcasm. Dazed and Confused, with its light-hearted tone and non linear plot, is one of the most casual and easily watchable films you will ever see. Characters are clearly defined and segregated, with every stereotype in the book present. We have the cool kids, the jocks, the nerds, the drama queens, and yet, none of the characters are typecast. Nearly everyone who appears onscreen is instantly likeable, even the jock bullies with their devil-may-care attitudes.

The atmosphere that is present throughout the film is infectious. It is very difficult not to get swept up in a feeling of pleasant nostalgia, for a time I’ve personally never visited, but felt I’ve lived, thanks to movies and music of that era. On that note, it is definitely worth mentioning what appears to be the directors coup de grace: The film’s soundtrack.

Some of the greatest hits of the generation make it into this film, in the era when Walkmans and LPs were the big thing. You get Alice Cooper, you get Deep Purple, you get KISS (who are paid a particularly awesome homage mid film). Every single track vibrates with an up-and-go party vibe, which adds to the previously mentioned feeling of warm nostalgia.

Overall:

The cast is littered with people guaranteed to make you go “it’s that guy from that thing!” (except, obviously, when it’s not a guy). As mentioned, everyone is portrayed as incredibly likeable, and the films overall tone reflects a very optimistic depiction of 1970’s America. It might not be 100% accurate, and is utterly devoid of the grimmer aspects, such as the Cold War. But then, sometimes it’s just so much better to focus on the good times, whether it is the director looking to the past, or the cast looking to the future.

Awful Rating: 9.5/10

“Well, all I’m saying is that I want to look back and say that I did the best I could while I was stuck in this place. Had as much fun as I could while I was stuck in this place. Played as hard as I could while I was stuck in this place… Dogged as many girls as I could while I was stuck in this place.” – Dawson

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • This is possibly the first time I’ve ever watched a film with Matthew McConaughey in it and didn’t once think to myself “I’d love to strangle you with the shirt you seem to be so afraid of wearing”. Ironic really, because apparently he’s supposed to be some kind of creep in this.
  • Apparently, the main thing to love about high school girls is that, while you keep getting older, they stay the same age (Yes they do).
  • This film was Stacy’s, but it’s still in my house. Problem?
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