DAZED AND CONFUSED
(director/writer: Richard Linklater; cinematographer: Lee Daniel; editor: Sandra Adair; cast: Jason London (Randall ‘Pink’ Floyd), Wiley Wiggins (Mitch Kramer), Cole Hauser (Benny), Rory Cochrane (Ron Slater), Michelle Burke (Jodi Kramer), Sasha Jenson (Don Dawson), Adam Goldberg (Mike Newhouse), Matthew McConaughey (David Wooderson), Marissa Ribisi (Cynthia Dunn), Milla Jovovich (Michelle Burroughs), Ben Affleck (O’Bannion), Parker Posey (Daria), Christin Hinojosa (Sabrina); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: R; producers: James Jacks/Sean Daniel/Richard Linklater; Universal Studios Home Video; 1993)
“A slightly above average plotless teen film filled with nostalgia.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Writer-director Richard Linklater’s (“Slacker”) second feature is a slightly above average plotless teen film filled with nostalgia that cuts both ways, showing things that were repulsive as much as some delightful lingering memories of rebellion and an innocence now lost. It energetically tracks a large cross-section of students who mostly happen to be jocks, nerds and stoners. They are played with spirit and conviction by an unknown cast. It’s set somewhere in suburban Middle America (filmed in Texas) on May 28, 1976, the last day of school, and covers this one hectic day in their lives. The seniors at Lee High School are set on hazing incoming freshmen from the junior high school, knocking over suburban mailboxes, making bongs in shop, cataloging by the coeds all the Gilligan Island episodes as some sort of a male sexual fantasy, the pursuit for Aerosmith tickets and looking forward to a summer of drugs, drinking, partying and fighting. The senior bullies are led by such jackasses as O’Bannion (Ben Affleck) who go after with an unnecessary vengeance junior high schoolers like Mitch Kramer (Wiley Wiggins). Randall ‘Pink’ Floyd (Jason London) is a long-haired football jock who would rather not play again in the fall than sign the coach’s neo-McCarthy contract stating that he wouldn’t drink alcohol or do drugs. Ron Slater (Rory Cochrane) plays the film’s most outlandish stoner, who suggests that George Washington was a marijuana grower and Martha Washington “was a hip, hip lady, man.” David Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey) is an alum in his twenties now, who still hangs out with the high school kids because those were the best years of his life. Marissa Ribisi plays Cynthia, the smart girl who knows that there’s got to be something more out there than what she sees from this crowd.
The loosely scripted film simply aims to recreate this time period filling the screen with hot coeds, the hip fashions of the time, the teens cruising around town in their decorative cars, and listening to loud music such as from bands like Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, Peter Frampton, Foghat, Deep Purple and Black Oak Arkansas. There are no big statements made, but it’s retro 1970s stuff for suburban American youth.
It follows the narrative arc of George Lucas’ “American Graffiti,” which reflected on the conservative 1950s, as it shows these teens from the more topsy-turvy Seventies trying to do their best to enjoy themselves before facing the inevitable future. In the end, it does show us what an odd time the Seventies was. It might be lightweight, but it does highlight in a somewhat scary way the mindless mindset of the 1976 teens–a time of dumbing down for America that is still continuing to be dumbed down by assaults from both the establishment and the pop culture.
REVIEWED ON 10/19/2006 GRADE: B-