Richard Linklater directs this high school teen drama, centred on several characters and events taking place during the last day of high school in May 1976, from new high school students to the graduating seniors, the film stars Jason London, Wiley Wiggins, Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich.
A great period teen comedy, Dazed and Confused interestingly doesn’t focus solely on teens, though it is a teen film for the most part, populated by a variety of memorable and distinct characters that really make the film quite fun and seeing the various friend groups doing their own thing, interacting or not at all is what makes the film enjoyable. A film arguably without a real story, the plot is still engaging and follows a set route as school kids of differing ages react to and plan their summers now that school is out, Linklater effectively captures the feeling of the late 70s in some great costume design and good writing. Writing that really shines in scenes with a lot of dialogue as characters talk about school, the future and each other.
As well as with some rather questionable past traditions like high school junior paddling (that was really a thing?) but in all, the past setting makes for a great watch and seeing how these high school teens in the past do more or less the same things that kids do now is a rather poignant, cutting school, worrying their parents, smoking, drinking and doing things for the first time, teens will be teens.
There are some great performances in the film of course with some notable dedication to roles here, from McConaugheys David Wooderson, not even a main character, he steals scenes that he’s in and has great presence, to Jason London as Randal Flloyd and Rory Cochrane as Ron Slater, the set of characters here have a real feeling to them, although some are clearly over the top. They are still just a bunch of teens hanging out, wanting to let loose and have fun in ways that they specifically want to and you can see that in the stereotypical teen cliques, the nerds, the jocks/the popular kids, the stoners and the incoming high school kids that just want to fit in and hang out with the older kids.
A great thing the film does is show these different cliques as they are but with the added touch of real life and despite differences, when it comes to things like the end of school, people do come together and just hang out whether they like each other or not and there’s an almost unspoken sense of camaraderie among high school kids when they know their collective school experience is coming to an end. And in that, I think Dazed and Confused remains a well crafted, memorable and fun watch.
. Great set of characters, good performances
. Engaging plot despite lack of a conventional story
. Good writing