Dazed and Confused (1993) - 10/10
Updated: Apr 25, 2021
God I love this film! From that opening sequence soundtracked by Sweet Emotion to the party at the Moon Tower. It’s effortless stoner cool with possibly the best cast of high school kids on their last day of school in 1976. Yes cooler than Grease. Pick a favourite, I can’t. This is the very epitome of an assemble cast of then largely unknown actors who now read like a list of... well not quite headliners, but still big names. Ben Affleck, Matthew McCognaughey, Adam Goldberg, Milla Jovovich, director Richard Linklater had an eye for talent. On one had it’s all just good teenage fun, but on another, a study in the hierarchy of redneck small town America. We’re in a small Texan town with sunshine, picket fences and pickups where everyone has their place. The younger kids terrorised by the high schoolers, jocks picking on the geeks, adults trying to maintain control “Young man you’re in need of a serious attitude adjustment” and 20 something Wooderson (McConnaughey) just trying to score with teenage girls in what makes for rather uncomfortable viewing. On the face of it it’s not clever. The final bell accompanied by Alice Cooper banging out ‘Schools Out’ and signalling the start of the hazing as the young freshman kids get chased, humiliated and beaten by the older seniors. Only in America. Mike (Goldberg) sees what’s happening, how screwed up the society around him is, if there is one, he along with his geek friends are the voice of reason, debating the ludicrousness of the school initiations and the path he’s on, “What do you wanna do man?, I wanna dance!” At the other end of the spectrum there’s O’Bannon (Affleck) who is the only really repulsive character. He’s the audiences hate target, the dumbfuck drop out with a chip on his shoulder, the embodiment of everything I hate about America. Senior, Pink (Jason London) in many ways is the focus, he’s the lynchpin. Popular with everyone without being a total asshole, he takes the hand of freshman Mitch (Wiley Wiggins) and leads him through the night, but really everyone plays their part. A rights of passage story of growing up, finding yourself, being okay with not having a clue. I first saw this when I was 16. It seemed so cool. The kids didn’t wear school uniforms. Instead replaced with their own uniforms of denim flares and long hair. Drinking beer in the hazy evening sun, driving cars and getting high. To a teenage Brit from Manchester, this was another planet. The needle drops help too, this is laced with 70s classics, no Led Zeppelin (Page had said yes, but Plant nixed it) but Aerosmith, Sabbath, Kiss (I hate Kiss!), Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, The Runaways, Dylan played on 8 Track in muscle cars. By the time we reach the party at the moon tower, well it’s just a beautiful scene man, everyone reaching their buzz in a different way, but getting to the same enlightened place. Slater (Rory Cochrane) mentally unpicking the founding fathers pot obsession, Pink’s decisions about his football career and Mike ditching intellectual rhetoric for fist fighting. None of them aware how cool they are “The 70s obviously suck”. It didn’t, they don’t, this doesn’t, it’s brilliant!