Alright, (alright, alright) this is the first movie for the blog that I have actually already seen. I decided to revisit it because it’s been at least 5 or 6 years since I first saw it, which was probably near the end of high school (which really is the best time to see it). With all of these dark movies I’ve been watching, I wanted something a little lighter before diving back into the dark and gritty again. I really forgot how much of a classic this movie is. There are few movies that really capture that feeling of the beginning of summer, as well as the pains of growing up, but Dazed and Confused is definitely among them.
The movie follows a few different groups, or cliques, of teenagers that are all getting out of High School for summer break in 1976. The jocks, the intellectuals, and the incoming freshmen just finishing middle school. Their stories interweave as the freshmen avoid getting paddled by the jocks, the stoners plan a huge house party, and Matthew McConaughey smokes and watches high school girls. It’s a fairly aimless movie, but director Richard Linklater (who also made one of my favorites; School of Rock) wrote such strong, relatable characters that it doesn’t even matter. All of them have great arcs throughout the movie, and it all comes to a head at a huge outdoor party, and one of my favorite third acts in any movie.
One of my favorite aspects of ‘Dazed and Confused’ is that every character and interaction feels so real and authentic. In fact, all of Richard Linklater’s films have so much heart and humanity in them, I think it’d be difficult to find anybody that doesn’t love at least one of his movies. The guy really has an unprecedented range as well, having directed movies like ‘A Scanner Darkly’, the ‘Before’ trilogy (which I haven’t seen but need to) and the great and under-appreciated ‘Bernie’. It also contains some of the first performances by now-famous people like McConaughey, Ben Affleck, and Mallrats’ Joey Lauren Adams (where did she disappear to, by the way?)
So basically, if you’re a fan of great coming-of-age movies, or ever had a hard time ‘growing up’, I think you’d love Dazed and Confused. Having revisited this movie, I can definitely call it one of my favorites of all time. There aren’t many movies that effectively capture the spirit of growing up, and all the confusion that comes with it, but in the words of David Wooderson, “You just gotta keep livin’, man.”