I thought surely we’d have a review up for this, but it does not appear that way, and I cannot let this go on! I first saw this amazing film way back in my college days, and my life hadn’t been all that different from the kids we see here. My high school even had the wonderful hazing type stuff these kids went through, at least in my freshman year. After that, things changed dramatically, but that first year was reminiscent of how it was portrayed for these freshmen. Obviously I’m quite a bit older nowadays, so those years are long gone, but seeing younger people relate to this film tells me things are probably not greatly different these days. We probably all go through the same things at that age. Hell, my stepdaughter loved this movie at only fourteen or so. It definitely still connects with youth.
“Fifty of you are leaving on a mission. Twenty-five of you ain’t coming back.”
So on to the film! Richard Linklater directed this; I had no clue who he was up until recently when Everybody Wants Some! became all the rage to talk about. I see he also did the Before trilogy and Boyhood, but I’ve not had the fortune of watching any of those. I’ve heard great things about the Before trilogy and it might be really good, but I really don’t see anything else he’s done topping Dazed and Confused. It’s pretty much the perfect coming of age comedy, and it has aged extremely well. It’s also endlessly quotable. I have watched Slacker and A Scanner Darkly, but neither of those were even close to Dazed and Confused caliber.
As far as cast goes, this thing is stacked with talent. I know I’m going to miss someone in here, so forgive me, but I will cover all the ones I know. Ben Affleck plays the held back loser hellbent on taking his anger out on the underclassmen and whether he was acting or whether he was really this kind of person in real life, he did an amazing job being that guy whom everyone hates. You’ll recognize Adam Goldberg from Saving Private Ryan. Matthew McConaughey, who plays everyone’s favorite pervert. Cole Hauser, who took me a minute to recognize fully, but he was the bounty hunter in Pitch Black. Milla Jovovich from the Fifth Element and Resident Evil series. Joey Lauren Adams who starred opposite Affleck in Chasing Amy. Parker Posey sounds familiar to me, but she isn’t as readily remembered as some of these others. Rounding this amazing list out is Renee Zellweger with a long list of roles she’s known for. So as you can see, this has a lot of A-list talent.
I’ve already mentioned how quotable this film is, so let’s talk overall story. What is amazing is how many cast members there are and how thorough their screen time is. Even if someone isn’t really on screen for that long, you get a resolution for their character. Everything in here comes around in such a way that none of the little stories feel needless nor do the major story points feel bogged down by all the other stuff going on around them. The story really does manage to have a large cast while including them all to satisfaction. There isn’t anything that is glaringly missing when the credits roll.
Then, there is the soundtrack. I grew up in the 80’s and pretty much every song in this was on the radio back in those days. So I found myself singing along as the different songs played. Each and every tune just fit incredibly well with the scene they were in. Of course, it helps that every tune is easily recognized.
In this film, we follow kids moving into high school as freshman and then hear about or even witness the terrors that the seniors will unleash on them. Some of those same kids can even get some acceptance with the seniors by enduring the yearly rituals where the others cower in fear and try to run. Then we have the seniors themselves coming to terms with their lives as they prepare for one final year before adulthood. So between a beer and a joint all these worlds come together for one final night of partying to celebrate the end of the school year and to prepare for the summer ahead. Some dread what lies before them where others embrace their futures with the clarion call of a concert they look forward to.
I’m sure someone could write page after page of what each character compares to psychologically, but at the end of the day, this film is about having fun and enjoying life. I don’t think you’ll find some deeper meaning behind all the pot head ramblings, but then again, maybe there is some meaning to be found in the carefree spirits who just roll with everything as they embrace the unknown of their future.
So when all the beer is gone and the partiers have left to go pass out, we’re left with just those few souls who have ridiculously high alcohol tolerance or those who held back a little to coast into the next day to go get their Aerosmith tickets. Which is much like a lot of the parties I remember from my college years. I give this one five out of five stars. This is an utterly flawless masterpiece!