Friday 29 June 2018

Movie Review: Dazed And Confused (1993)

A teens-hanging-out movie, Dazed And Confused is a plotless exercise in capturing ambiance.

It's May 1976, and the last day of school at Lee High School in Austin, Texas. A group of seniors-to-be and incoming freshmen interact throughout the afternoon and into the night. The freshmen undergo initiation ordeals and hazings, while the seniors smoke weed, drink beer, cruise down the streets in their vehicles, and look for a place to party. The school's star quarterback "Pink" Floyd (Jason London), heading into his senior year, and struggles all night with his coach's demand to sign a good-behaviour pledge.

Written, directed and co-produced by Richard Linklater, Dazed And Confused is all about mood and music, a 20-years-later and much inferior spiritual successor to American Graffiti. Set against a soundtrack of early 1970s rock anthems, the film has an overabundance of characters doing very little. At a stretch, themes of growing up, fitting in, and striking out can be discerned in the jumbled debris of the film, but the presentation is painful, Linklater obsessed with a group of boorish seniors intent on abusing freshmen with paddle-inflicted bum-beatings.

Whether intended to be funny or painful, Dazed And Confused spends too much time on nondescript and poorly defined teens mistreating each other with no consequence, retaliation or after effects. Elsewhere, the characters' primary motivations are weed, beer, making out and parties. The conversations are instantly forgettable, and hardly any of the people who populate the film are remotely interesting or memorable.

The one exception may be Matthew McConaughey as Wooderson, the former school quarterback who now has a job and acts as the cool older brother to the seniors. McConaughey improves the film everytime he is on-screen, but not enough to create a compelling narrative direction. Other cast members who went on to prominent careers include Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Cole Hauser and Parker Posey. Renée Zellweger makes a brief appearance in an uncredited role.

For fans of 1970s classic rock the film is a treat, and features music by Foghat, Alice Cooper, ZZ Top, Nazareth, Ted Nugent, Sweet, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath. and Kiss. Alas, Led Zeppelin inspired the film's title but denied permission for their music to feature. The aesthetics also evoke nostalgia for admirers of 1970s bell-bottom dominated fashions and muscle cars.

Dazed And Confused cruises up and down the main drag, looking good and sounding good but not intending to go anywhere in particular.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.


  1. I dig the last line of this review. I like this one a great deal more than you. I found it at the right time when I was young, and it stuck. It's one of those movies that got me into movies. The "mood and music" is really what makes it work for me. It feels exactly like how you remember a night out in high school, no consequences, no major life decisions, just L-I-V-I-N!

    1. I fully get just did not resonate with me. I probably got to it too late!


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