Sunday, July 13, 2014

Movie Review: "Dazed and Confused" (1993)

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Movie"Dazed and Confused"
Director: Richard Linklater
Year: 1993
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

It's the last day of school at Lee High in Texas in 1976. The soon-to-be seniors are looking to start their summer with a bash that involves drinking, smoking weed, partying, and hazing the incoming freshmen. Male freshmen are subject to a barrage of paddlings from the seniors, as the girls are subject to more verbal abuse and humiliation as they are doused in ketchup, raw eggs, flower, and then run through a car wash. But, it's all in good fun, and when the hazing is over, some of the seniors are willing to take these freshman under their wing and show them a good time as we share in one day and night during the beginning of summer with the students of Lee High. 

If you're looking for a movie with a traditional plot, you won't find that here. "Dazed and Confused" is an ensemble character sketch where we get to see how one group of students acts during one single day in a snapshot of American life in the 1970's. This group covers the entire compass of student body life: the jocks, the cheerleaders, the geeks, the politically inclined, the stoners, the older kids who never left high school, and the drifters. The range of topics include their hopes for the future, their philosophies on life and school, political ideologies and conspiracy theories, and whatever ideals they have about the opposite sex and relationships in general. It has more to do with the dialogue and conversations that go on throughout the film than it does about any discernible plot. It might seem messy at times, but that's what makes it feel real. At the end of the movie, what we're left with is a nostalgic flashback of a moment in time where drugs were done in the bathrooms at school, kids were basically physically assaulted as part of hazing rituals, and high school kids were able to walk into a liquor store and make casual conversation with a fake ID and weren't even questioned about their age. We're sure it seems like high school kids are still growing up too fast, but they did so even faster in this movie. I guess the thing for me is, since I didn't experience any of this as part of my high school experience, I just don't understand it all that well.

There are also a few break-out stars in this film, such as Ben Affleck, who does a good job as your typical jock bully and all-around asshole, and Matthew McConaughey, who puts on a memorable performance as a creeper of a graduate who likes to hang around his old high school because he was the big man on campus and it makes him feel superior. His "alright, alright, alright" line is still used to this day as a memorable line in cinematic history 21 years later. BigJ says this makes him feel extremely old, and I promptly reminded him it's because he is, and so am I. There are a lot of other recognizable names here: Parker Posey, Anthony Rapp, Joey Lauren Adams, Milla Jovovich, Jason London (who would go on to crap his pants in the back of a cop car....what), even Renee Zellweger has an uncredited role where she has no lines.

One of the best parts of this movie for me is that it features one of the greatest soundtracks in film history. Everything from Aerosmith to Mott the Hoople, from Pink Floyd to Marshall Tucker's just an incredible compilation of music. Director Richard Linklater did an awesome job of putting each song where it belonged in this movie. The same could be said about the costumes, the cars, the settings...everything about this movie screams 70's. Linklater has a knack for attention to detail.

All in all, this is a decent representation of American life at one point in time. It has become a cult classic over the years and produces many laughs and some thought-provoking conversation. Even if I don't seem to get it, it still isn't a bad movie, and I can understand it enough to know what's good about it.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

1 comment:

  1. Yes! I had the soundtrack and played it all the time. Unfortunately it was scratched over time and had to be tossed.