The 1970s are a go in this excellent film from director Richard Linklater with a stellar cast including some fan favorites today.
It’s 1976 and it’s the last day of school in Austin, Texas. Lee High School star quarterback Randy “Pink” Floyd is only caring about hanging with his friends and getting tickets to the upcoming Aerosmith concert. When he learns that his coach wants him and the other team members to sign a pledge not to indulge in any illegal activities during the summer, he makes a big deal out it. To make matters worse, his buddy Pickford just got busted by his dad and the end of the year party has just been cancelled.
Pink and his friends decide to go driving around and hang out the local hangout, the Emporium. Pink takes upcoming freshman Mitch Kramer under his wing. As the gang searches for another place to party, the group partakes in smoking weed, drinking, and having all out fun. New friendships form, old friendships may end up unraveling, and for Pink, a decision that could change his life is set to be made.
Where John Hughes would come up with films that would define the 1980s, Richard Linklater did something ingenious with his third feature film. He decided to pay homage to the 1970s and originally, the film was to have a group of guys in a car. It soon expanded into more than that and everything is set on the last day of school in 1976 in Linklater’s hometown of Austin, Texas. This feels like a film John Hughes could have made during his Brat Pack days if they were set in the 1970s.
What is great about the film is that it involves a series of vignettes all connected within the graduating junior high kids and the soon to be seniors of Lee High School. There is plenty of “hazing”, in which the senior guys paddle the heck out of the soon-to-be freshman boys while the senior girls humiliate the freshmen girls and make them propose to the guys while dousing them with flour and other things then putting them through a car wash. However, after the hazing for two lucky freshmen, it becomes a night they will never forget. On the boys side, it’s Wiley Wiggins’ Mitch, who is at first nervous but soon finds himself worthy of being one of the guys after his wacky misadventures. On the girls side, it’s Christin Hinojosa’s Sabrina, who is welcomed by Mitch’s sister Jody, played by Michelle Burke and she finds herself crushing on senior Tony, played by Anthony Rapp.
A major focus of the film is that of high school quarterback Pink, played by Jason London. He’s grown tired of his coach always ragging on him and the pledge the team has to sign is the breaking point. This may affect his relationship with certain players and buddies. However, with the older Wooderson, played with his soon to be trademark style by the debuting Matthew McConaughey, Pink finds himself at ease. There is even a hilarious “history lesson” about the connection between George Washington and marijuana from stoner Slater, played by Rory Cochrane. There does become a serious moment in the film involving a character getting himself in a fight. However, aside from this temporary incident of seriousness, this film can be described as a fun ride into the 1970s.
Dazed and Confused is a fun look at the 1970s from a band of students and friends’ point of view. The cast is amazing in this, with some rising above others. Despite a serious moment, this is a fun and wild ride on the last day of school!
WFG RATING: A+
Universal Pictures and Gramercy Pictures presents an Alphaville production in association with Detour Filmproduction. Director: Richard Linklater. Producers: Sean Daniel, James Jacks, and Richard Linklater. Writer: Richard Linklater. Cinematography: Lee Daniel. Editing: Sandra Adair.
Cast: Jason London, Joey Lauren Adams, Milla Jovovich, Shawn Andrews, Rory Cochrane, Sasha Jenson, Ben Affleck, Wiley Wiggins, Christine Harnos, Michelle Burke, Deena Martin, Anthony Rapp, Adam Goldberg, Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, Marissa Ribisi, Cole Hauser, Jason O. Smith, Christin Hinojosa, Renee Zellweger.