DAZED AND CONFUSED
I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out why I can watch DAZED AND CONFUSED over and over again, and enjoy it anew each and every time.
Maybe partly because it’s kind of a kick to see all these now-famous actors who were virtual unknowns at the time get their start: Jason London, Adam Goldberg (SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and Chandler’s psychotic roommate on FRIENDS), Marissa Ribisi (who hasn’t made it big but is the twin sister of Giovanni, which should be worth something in and of itself), Cole Hauser (GOOD WILL HUNTING), Milla Jovovich, Joey Lauren Adams (CHASING AMY), Rory Cochrane (later on CSI MIAMI), Indie-queen Parker Posey, and even Ben Affleck, giving perhaps his best performance ever. Then there is the beginning of Matthew McConaughey, who, rumor had it, played the immortal Wooderson completely stoned all through filming. (And right now, all who have seen the film are thinking to themselves, “That’s what I love about them high school girls…”)
Speaking of quotes, perhaps that’s why I love D&C so much. Outside of PULP FICTION, this is The most quotable film since STAR WARS, and that’s saying something. (Note: I did almost an hour of research to make sure I wasn’t overlooking any worthy movie. And while PRINCESS BRIDE, THE HOUSE OF YES, RESERVOIR DOGS SWINGERS, TOP GUN, ANNIE HALL, and FIGHT CLUB come close, they don’t pass D&C.) Not more than two minutes can go by without some great line that you can use again and again. It’s uncanny.
But perhaps more than either of those things, the reason I love DAZED AND CONFUSED so much is the déjà vu I get watching it. The film takes place in the last day of school in 1976. I wasn’t in school then. And I didn’t go to parties and get drunk and smoke pot (which is mostly what happens that night). I didn’t get beaten with a paddle as an incoming freshman by seniors. (We moved right before my freshman year, but even if we hadn’t, I don’t see anyone trying that with me.) I didn’t grow up with any of the songs on the excellent soundtrack, any of the hairstyles or clothes, or simply the vibe that permeated the ‘70s.
And yet I relate to this film so much. There are moments all throughout here that remind me of my experience. Maybe just a small thing; wanting to look cool in front of older kids, or liking a girl and not knowing what to say. I just felt connected to the film.
I was discussing this with Koz the other day, as we were tallying our favorite satire films, and he asked me if DAZED AND CONFUSED qualified. I wasn’t around then, but I don’t think so. Too much of it was too real. I think we get a slice of life here, and while I can’t relate to the specificity of the circumstances, in many ways I connect to this film.
Which brings me to you. I suppose if you grew up in the ‘40s or ‘50s, or if you have strong objections to swearing and casual drug/alcohol use, this movie wouldn’t be for you. I cannot imagine ANYONE else not loving this. For some it will be a trip straight down memory lane. For others it will evoke deep emotions within them back to their own experience. And everyone—whether connected or not—will have a rollicking good time watching it. DAZED AND CONFUSED is one of the two most underrated films of the ‘90s, and one you should watch repeatedly, if not own.