DAZED AND CONFUSED,
released in 1993 and brilliantly directed by a young Texas-born
filmmaker, stands as one of the most iconic high school movies ever
produced. "In the exhilarating DAZED AND CONFUSED, 31-year-old director
Richard Linklater delivers what may be the most slyly funny and
dead-on portrait of American teenage life ever made," gushed ENTERTAINMENT
WEEKLY critic Owen Gleiberman. And director Kevin Smith, another
passionate fan of the picture, asserted, "Every once in a while,
as a filmmaker, you think, 'Maybe I should make a movie about what
it was like when I was growing up.' And then I remember, 'Oh wait,
DAZED AND CONFUSED exists. There's no need.'"
Taking place on May 28, 1976, the final day of school, the movie,
filled with memorable characters and rich dialogue, closely follows
two groups of teens: one is an assortment of rising seniors anticipating
a night of intense revelry and the other is a set of fresh-faced,
incoming freshmen desperately trying to avoid a humiliating hazing
experience at the hands of the older students. Linklater, who grew
up in Houston and Huntsville
and partially based the film on his own experiences, perfectly captures
the scene of mid-Seventies high school life. Pot smoke fills the
air, a copious amount of beer is guzzled, and the music of Aerosmith,
ZZ Top, and Ted Nugent blares from the kids' pickups, muscle cars,
and VW bugs. Meanwhile, starting quarterback Randy "Pink" Floyd
tries to evade the overbearing Coach Conrad, who demands that his
players sign a no-partying pledge.
Filmed in Austin, Georgetown,
in 1992, the cult classic featured a host of newcomers, many of
whom later became popular stars, including Matthew McConaughey,
Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, and Renee Zellweger. And Linklater himself
went on to become a Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee. His subsequent
films include the BEFORE trilogy (1995, 2004, 2013), SCHOOL OF ROCK
(2003), BAD NEWS BEARS (2005), BERNIE (2011), BOYHOOD (2014), and
EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! (2016), a sequel of sorts to DAZED AND CONFUSED.
McConaughey plays the film's most indelible character, David Wooderson,
a slightly seedy twenty-something stoner who's been "working for
the city" but still likes to hang out with high schoolers. Wooderson
utters such unforgettable lines as, "Man, it's the same bullshit
they tried to pull in my day. You know, if it ain't that piece of
paper, there's some other choice they're gonna try and make for
you. You gotta do what Randall 'Pink' Floyd wants to do, man. Let
me tell you this: The older you do get, the more rules they're gonna
try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin', man, L-I-V-I-N'."
And "Say, man. You got a joint? It'd be a lot cooler if you did."
And "That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get
older, they stay the same age." And on and on.
Ms. Stroud, a teacher at Robert E. Lee High, also provides some
of the funniest and most striking lines of the film. As they leave
her classroom for the last time, she advises her students, "Hey
guys, one more thing. Hey, this summer, when you're being inundated
with all this American Bicentennial Fourth of July brouhaha, don't
forget what you're celebrating, and that's the fact that a bunch
of slave-owning, aristocratic, white males didn't want to pay their
Maerz's terrific book, which provides extensive interviews with
Linklater and his cast, thoroughly examines the genesis, shooting,
release (it initially failed at the box office), critical reception,
and legacy of the film. "There is no movie that has affected me
more, or stayed with me longer, or shaped me as a filmmaker more,"
recalls Ben Affleck. "And I never ever, ever, had as much fun again.
Now, years later, I see that it was probably the most profound creative
experience of my life." And Matthew McConaughey declares, "Look,
when people go, 'What's your favorite film?' I always have to bring
up DAZED AND CONFUSED."
Cinephiles and Texas pop culture enthusiasts will relish this entertaining
and informative volume. To quote Wooderson, it's "Alright, alright,
"You know, Coach. I gotta get going. Me and my 'loser' friends,
you know, we gotta go get Aerosmith tickets. Top priority of the
summer. Oh, and Coach, uh, I forgot. I might play ball, but I will
never sign that."
Randy "Pink" Floyd, crumpling up his no-partying pledge and throwing
it back at Coach Conrad at the movie's conclusion.