Dazed and Confused (1993) — Relishing seventies teen culture

“Now fry like bacon you little freshman piggies! FRY!”

Clare’s rating: 4 out of 5 drunk drivers

Clare’s review: Dazed and Confused has no real plot per se. It’s more just a “day in the life” look at high school kids on the crest of summer vacation back in the mid-1970s. Just wanted to get that out there so nobody’s disappointed if they rent this expecting some sort of traditional plot arc. There’s a lot of funny dialogue, drug use, beer drinking, driving around and partying.

Although I would recommend Dazed and Confused to anyone who hasn’t yet seen it, I’m not sure that I LOVE this movie. It’s good, but it’s not GREAT.

There’s a huge slew of characters played by actors who, in 1993, were big fat nobodies. Most notable of the lot are Matthew McConaughey (or however the hell it’s spelled), who should have been awarded “most creepily realistic portrayal” as that guy who graduated years ago but still hangs out with high school kids. After his spot-on performance, there’s Ben Affleck parading around with the dip****iest haircut on record and his very own pre-Armageddon, leading man, bling-bling, dental surgery teeth. He plays an unrepentant tool with great aplomb. Bravo.

The thing I liked most about Dazed and Confused was the almost-documentary feel it has. I grew up in a farm town where there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot to do. I’ve been to parties out in the middle of nowhere and I’ve lived through getting busted trying to throw a kegger when my friend’s parents went out of town. I even remember the creepy older guy who always came to our parties. So it rang pretty true for me in a lot of ways even though I wasn’t in long pants yet in 1976 and don’t really like KISS all that much. Maybe it’ll have the same effect on you.

Justin’s rating: man on the run… from fun!

Justin’s review: We all like to feel self-important and indulge in a bit of egocentrism from time to time, so here’s my go. The film Dazed and Confused is set (not filmed) a few days before my actual birth day in 1976. Which doesn’t mean a lot, I know, but it’s of passing interest to me to see the world at the time I burst out of my mother’s chest ready to terrorize the Nostromo’s crew.

This world was the seventies, a time span that I don’t care to revel in for very long. For one thing, the haircuts and clothing made *anyone* pretty much ugly. But like it or not (Wayne: “NOT!”), it’s the setting for today’s movie (of which I’ve been bombarded with so many e-mails requesting that we review this, that I’m convinced there are several Dazed and Confused cults out there).

It’s the last day of high school, and the kids are ready to go wild. Starting at a common ground, the school itself, this movie splinters into dozens of smaller plots. Yes, it’s the Everything Happens In One Night Movie, which pretty much began with American Graffiti. There’s a party, of course… well, actually a few parties. There’s a gullible kid who becomes a Man in this time span. There’s a revenge story, a rogue stoner, and filler conversations that provide us with all sorts of happy quotes (but do little to advance the Seinfeldian plot).

To be honest with you, I’ve never gotten late fees for returning this movie because I couldn’t bear to part with it (and for the record, I’ve seen it five times). It’s one of those flicks that you just have to “get.” It might be the culture or the celeb cameos. Perhaps this movie has locked eyes with you and there’s major love going on, the kind you can’t quite put into words, the kind that have several acid-spitting butterflies going on a stampede in your stomach. Let’s not rule out the impressive period soundtrack, the cultural attitude, the quotes, and the free use of violence against freshmen.

For me, I continue to sit on the Indifferent Fence of Dazed and Confused because none of these characters leap out and speak to me, to my inner soul, to my secret desires (wanting to own the Oscar Weinermobile).

Between this movie and Mallrats, Ben Affleck has made his mark in my mind as the ultimate jerk. He kinda epitomizes every abusive jock with his squints and swaggers, and it’s been a long, uphill battle to like him in his more kid-friendly (and lesbian-loving) roles. Sure, he gets his come-uppance in these films, but in my mind there is no come-uppance severe enough for that smirk. Well, maybe the ant hill and honey and several cloned Fran Dreschners.

Remember those G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe “special messages” they’d tack on to the end of each show? Well, if Dazed and Confused had one of those, it’d go like this: “Kids, the seventies was one long party-fest, with free beer and happy drugs and loose women and those stupid smiley faces that were undoubtedly the Mark of the Beast. Sure, our jeans were tight enough to distinguish pocket change, but we lived in a freewheeling spirit that never died! Until the next morning, then there was the eighties and a trucload of aspirin to wash away the freaky blue monsters that kept popping up into the corner of our vision! So kids, knowing about the seventies is learning about a pointless period in history, and knowing is half the battle.”

Didja notice?

  • A picture of Jack Nicholson from The Shining is on the inside of a locker door. However, The Shining was released in 1980, four years later than the year in which the film was set.
  • The cast of Dazed and Confused or Before They Were (kind of) Stars: Parker Posey (The House of Yes), Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan), Anthony Rapp (Road Trip), Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy), Rory Cochrane (Empire Records), Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element) and Cole Hauser (Good Will Hunting)
  • The song that Milla Jovovich plinks on her guitar whilst gazing at the stars is an excerpt from The Alien Song, a song from Milla’s 1994 album, The Divine Comedy.
  • When Mitch goes to purchase beer at the convenience store, a Coke dispenser with a logo first introduced in 1985 is visible.
  • O’Bannion’s car squeals as he drives over the grass after getting paint dumped on him.
  • During the party at the moon tower, a group of people are shown “shotgunning” beer out of cans that had flip-tab openers. All beer cans distributed in Texas had pull ring tabs until the mid-80’s.

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