Dazed and Confused (R)

Comedy 95 July 23, 2013
By Terri Sutton
As anybody who was there will tell you, attending high school in the mid- to late '70s made for a distinctly disillusioned adolescence. Plagued by archetypal images of '50s "innocence" and '60s "rebellion," we could see right through the anachronistic rituals of football games and dances, but didn't have a natural crisis to unite behind. (Just try to build a movement around gas prices.) The most common solution was to anesthetize--which is pretty much the subject of this charming, bittersweet high school movie written and directed by Richard Linklater. Set on the last day of school in May 1976, it tracks the movements and interactions of a group of newly hatched seniors and the incoming freshmen they're determined to initiate. With its extended cast and quick, interwoven vignettes, it follows the form of George Lucas's American Graffiti--as Linklater wryly acknowledges with a lifted scene set at a convenience store. The landscape of drive-ins, schools, and car interiors is familiar as well--although Lucas never climaxed his film with a crowded, late-night kegger. Linklater does, which is one reason why Dazed and Confused kicks the stuffing out of any other movie about high school I've ever seen. And how 'bout that classic '70s soundtrack? If there was a unity one felt in those days, it was in digging Aerosmith, ZZ Top, Ted Nugent, and Alice Cooper, in whose hot, thick, revved-up rhythms you can still feel the adrenaline and frustration of a decade of kids, all wound up with nothing to do but put the pedal to the metal and let it ride. (Terri Sutton)
Richard Linklater Jason London, Joey Lauren Adams, Milla Jovovich, Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey Richard Linklater Sean Daniel, James Jacks


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