From the Vault: Dazed and Confused Revisited
When it comes proper right down to it, there actually aren’t many films as effortlessly enjoyable and pleasant to observe as Dazed and Confused. The film that gave director Richard Linklater his large break — and a movie that incorporates early starring roles from Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, and Parker Posey — it’s been labeled one of many funniest comedy movies, greatest highschool films, and customarily greatest “hangout” films by everybody from Leisure Weekly to Esquire to Quentin Tarantino, and virtually undoubtedly inspiring later similarly-veined sitcoms like That ‘70s Present. Seeing it’s like touring again in time not solely to the late Seventies, but additionally to your individual carefree late adolescence the place the one stuff you needed to fear about had been the place the following social gathering was going to be (effectively that, and cricket bat-wielding Ben Afflecks, technically).
Set in suburban Texas in 1976, Dazed and Confused takes place over the course of a single day, following a number of completely different teams and cliques of pals on the official final day of college and the unofficial first day of summer time trip. Many of the motion is centered round 14-year-old Mitch (Wiley Wiggins), a not too long ago graduated eighth-grader and incoming freshman. Mitch begins the movie — alongside along with his fellow freshman — dodging the makes an attempt of the senior class who’re bent on welcoming them to highschool by way of hazing rituals, equivalent to hitting boys’ butts with a hardwood paddle repeatedly and masking women in mustard, ketchup, uncooked eggs, and flour.
After his punishment has been absolutely meted out, Mitch is invited to accompany the seniors on an evening of ingesting, smoking, cruising round, going to events, and simply typically having the time of their younger lives. Interspersed all through are scenes revolving round Mitch’s different classmates, all of whom are equally hanging out collectively, repeatedly assembly up at events, burger factors, arcades, and different teen-populated hangout spots round city through the course of the night time.
To boil it right down to its easiest premise, Dazed and Confused is a film about completely nothing. Like so many Linklater films (Boyhood, the Earlier than trilogy, and his latest Apollo 10 ½), there’s no general plot and even a lot in the way in which of the story — if hard-pressed to explain it to a good friend, somebody who’s seen the film would in all probability shrug their shoulders, “I don’t know, it’s only a film about youngsters having enjoyable.” In contrast to the John Hughes coming of age dramas films of the Eighties, the film doesn’t discover the darker, angsty emotions most youngsters have in highschool, nor does it have the raunchiness or gross-out humor of different ‘90s and 2000s teen comedies like American Pie. It’s not at the same time as over-the-top or story-driven or chaotic as one thing like Animal Home.
However like all nice films and reveals about nothing, such simplicity permits for pure, unadulterated enjoyable as we watch these ‘70s teenagers have interaction in so many stress-free actions and get into all kinds of shenanigans (equivalent to angering a ridiculously intense, gun-toting outdated man after smashing his mailbox). It’s like ASMR earlier than ASMR was even a thought at the back of some YouTuber’s thoughts. Watching it’s simply so calming and pleasant, it actually feels such as you’re there with Mitch and his newfound pals within the backseat of McConaughey’s Chevy Chevelle, ZZ Prime blaring on the radio and the countless potentialities of what the night time has to supply forward of you.
On the floor, Dazed and Confused is an enchanting and wholly entertaining snapshot of youngsters within the Seventies’, proper right down to the period-accurate music (numerous Alice Cooper, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kiss, Deep Purple, Foghat, and so forth), spectacular costume design, and nonstop colloquial use of the phrase “man” to handle just about everybody (to not point out these incredible, shoulder-length hairstyles 90% of the forged is rocking).
What George Lucas completed in 1973 with American Graffiti’s nostalgic portrayal of the ‘50s, Linklater accomplishes right here — each films make sentimental use of their administrators’ childhoods, each give attention to a number of teams of teenagers navigating their suburban communities over the course of 1 night time, and each are just about plotless. And in each films, you actually really feel such as you’re there within the decade the film is ready, the appear and feel of the movies being so immersive and meticulous, you possibly can virtually really feel your self reliving the ‘50s and ‘70s even if you happen to weren’t born but or actually being attentive to what was occurring round you.
Whereas its depiction of the ‘70s is certainly enjoyable to see, although, the allure of Dazed and Confused isn’t its portrayal of the last decade the movie is ready in — slightly, it’s how fondly it seems again on adolescence and highschool, no matter whether or not they went to highschool within the ‘70s, ‘80s, 2000s, or 2020s.
As you may anticipate from a film set within the ‘70s, a lot of the movie is free and enjoyable, however that’s simply as a lot a mirrored image of how worry-free our teenage years are, as it’s solely exploring how laidback and carefree the ‘70s themselves had been. As McConaughey’s character says to one of many foremost characters, Randall “Pink” Floyd close to the film’s finish, “The older you do get, the extra guidelines they will attempt to get you to observe. You simply gotta preserve livin’ man, L. I. V. I. N.”
That’s what the film is primarily about — residing and having enjoyable and having fun with life to its fullest whilst you nonetheless can. And amazingly, watching the film transports you again to that point in your life surrounded by pals, having enjoyable doing essentially the most mundane actions, like driving round city or getting greasy burgers at your native quick meals place. You don’t see the film and go, “Oh, man, I want I used to be an adolescent once more.” Watching Dazed and Confused, you’re a teenager once more, the identical method you are feeling your self reverting again to childlike giddiness if you stroll by way of Disney World, let’s say. It’s an incredible feat to perform, and one of many few films that I do know that may truly pull this little miracle off so flawlessly and organically.
And even if you happen to’re a type of individuals who hated highschool — I do know I positive did — the film explores these teenage years with such fondness and sincerity, it’s prefer it utterly washes over all these dangerous highschool reminiscences you might have, leaving solely the very best and most cherished reminiscences behind as an alternative.
It’s the quintessential summer time film, good for any weekend you’re feeling nostalgic for a less complicated time in your life — a time when the climate was heat, the vibes constructive, pals plentiful, and when the very best, most fun night time of your life was proper there in entrance of you.
Dazed and Confused is presently streaming on Peacock
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