The 1970’s hold a special place in my heart (despite the fact that I wouldn’t be born until the tail end of the ’80’s). They replaced the violence and upheaval and craziness of the ’60’s, but at the same time, it was still a time of innovation and discovery before the commercialization and corruption of the Reagan decade. There was still great music. There were great movies. The world was, perhaps a more innocent place. Maybe that is why the classic teen comedy Dazed and Confused is both quintessentially 1970’s in its production, design, soundtrack, and fashion, and yet, it still remains a film that is timeless today as it was when it was released in 1993. Along with the TV show Freaks and Geeks, Dazed and Confused stands as one of the truest and best portrayals of what it is like to be an American teenager growing up in this nation and how little that it has changed over the last thirty years.

The movie is about the last day of high school before summer starts, and it follows the lives of a fairly large and diverse group of teenagers through this day. You’ve got star quarterback Randall “Pink” Floyd, who is being pressured to sign a pledge by his coach saying he won’t smoke weed or do anything else illegal during his summer. There’s Tony and Mike, a pair of nerds who are disaffected and intellectual and have high-brow conversations the whole film, along with their friend Cynthia. They drive around looking down on the activities of the others, like smoking weed or drinking. There’s Mitch Kramer and his posse of 8th graders who are soon to be freshmen who’s only goal for the day is to not get their ass beat by the incoming seniors as part of the annual hazing ritual. There’s Slater who is the archetypal stoner. There’s Bannion, the repeat senior who is a complete dick. And who can forget Wooderson, the man who graduated a long time ago but still hangs out with the high school kids.

If you went to high school and you don’t recognize at least a couple of kids that you knew growing up from the large cast of the film, then you just didn’t go to high school, or you spent all your time at home not interacting with any other human beings. And much like my high school experience, the kids in this film aren’t cliquish or assholes (with some exceptions). They’re pretty chill people who like to have a good time. They smoke some weed. They drink some beer. They party. They have sex. They do the shit that teenagers do. But at the same time, it’s not done in an over-the-top way like certain franchises such as American Pie. It’s understated and grounded in the sort of shenanigans you can remember you and your friends getting into back in the day.

The film’s story telling and sense of time and place is fantastic but what keeps it held together is the fantastic ensemble cast that is brought together here. Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConnaughey, Adam Goldberg, Milla Jovivich, Jason London. They’re all fantastic. Special props have to be given to McConnaughey and London however. McConnaughey steals every single scene that he’s in as Wooderson and gets some of the best one-liners in the whole movie. It’s really a shame that he can’t be this awesome in his other roles instead of such a tool. and Jason London plays Randall “Pink” Floyd great as well. The conflict between his responsibility as a quarterback and his desire to be a kid and have fun and do the shit that he likes to do without being controlled by some distant authority figure is a complicated role and he nails it well.

I could talk about this movie all day. I never even got to talk about how amazing its soundtrack is. Just a fantastic collection of 70’s rock and roll that will not let you down. But this blog is running kind of long at this point, so I should bring this to a close. Needless to say, this is one of my all time favorite movies. I’ve met one person in my entire life who didn’t like this film. There’s really no one that I can’t think of who wouldn’t walk away from this film and not love it. If for some reason, you have not seen this movie, you need to check it out right now. It will take you right back to high school and to the good parts of it, not the terrible parts that you’re trying to repress.

Final Score: A

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