Film / Dazed and Confused

"All I'm saying is that if I ever start referring to these as the best years of my life - remind me to kill myself."

Austin, Texas, 1976: It's the last day of High School, the seniors are hazing the incoming freshmen, and Kevin has decided to throw a kegger. One freshman, Mitch Kramer, is taken under the wing of Randall "Pink" Floyd, a senior. Meanwhile, a group of nerdy friends, Cynthia, Mike, and Tony, decide to go make their last day one to remember. The two stories dovetail at the party.

Dazed and Confused (1993) is a Coming-of-Age Story written and directed by Richard Linklater. The movie's large Ensemble Cast featured a number of future stars, including Matthew McConaughey, Jason London, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Cole Hauser, Parker Posey, Anthony Rapp, Adam Goldberg, Joey Lauren Adams, Nicky Katt, and Rory Cochrane.

Basically, it's American Graffiti made in the nineties instead of seventies, and set in The '70s instead of The Fiftiesnote .

The title of the film is derived from the Led Zeppelin song of the same name. Linklater approached surviving members of the band for permission to use their songs in the movie, but, while Jimmy Page agreed, Robert Plant refused.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: All the adults except Carl's mom are cool with the seniors hazing the incoming freshmen. Tony comments on this.
  • Advertised Extra: Milla Jovovich's character has very little screentime for someone who appears on both the movie's poster and home video covers. All the more strange is that Jovovich wasn't even all that famous when the film was released.
    • Actually, between her modeling career and handful of roles in films like Kuffs and Return to the Blue Lagoon, Jovovich was possibly the biggest star in the cast in 1993.
  • Alpha Bitch: Head cheerleader Darla.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Mike Newhouse
  • Best Years of Your Life: See Page Quote
  • Big Brother Mentor: Pink to Mitch.
  • Breakout Character: David Wooderson. Originally a more minor character, Richard Linklater was so impressed with Matthew McConaughey's performance, he ended up writing much more dialogue for him.
  • Calling Shot Gun: Shotgun is Slater's official position in the car. Remember this.
  • Cool Big Sis: Jodi toward Mitch and Sabrina
  • Cool Car: Pickford's GTO is, in the argot of the period, bitchin'.
    • Pickford's car is just one of many examples. Let's just say that if you're a fan of classic American muscle cars, you'll probably like this movie.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The fight that breaks out at the party.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Hazing incoming freshmen on the last day of school was frowned upon in 1993 (as it still is today), and the movie seems to toy with the audience's modern day sensibilities whenever it's depicted. But in the film's 1976 setting, it's seen by the characters as just another traditional rite of passage.
    • Nutritional attitudes are also not quite where they are in the 20-teens:
    ...and remember to get plenty of calcium. It's important for pregnant women to get plenty of calcium. (Liquor store clerk, to pregnant customer buying booze and smokes.)
    He later tells her, "See you again tomorrow."
  • Ephebophile: Wooderson, arguably the movie's most famous, or at least most memetic character.
    Wooderson: That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.
  • Erotic Dream: Tony tells Mike about a rather disturbing one.
    Tony: So there I am, getting it on with this perfect female body, and...
    Mike: ...What?
    Tony: I can't say.
    Mike: No, you can't give a build-up like that and not deliver. You know, a perfect female body, it’s not a bad start.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: Averted. The film takes place in the suburbs of Austin, but the Texas stereotypes are all missing.
    • Except the high school football stereotype, which is subverted. The star player, Floyd, is not very passionate about playing ball.
    • Austin itself is kind of an aversion both in real life and the movie.
  • Funny Afro: Cynthia's giant red afro.
  • "Have a Nice Day" Smile: Unsurprisingly, the one used in the movie poster looked fairly baked.
  • Held Back In School: Fred O'Bannion.
  • Improbably Cool Car: Many owned by the named characters as well as several appearing in the background.
  • Jerkass: Darla, Clint and O'Bannion
  • Jerkass Façade: Pink and some of the cheerleaders are nice enough people who are only going through with the hazing per tradition.
  • Jerk Jock: O'Bannion.
    • All the male hazing seniors are this to a lesser degree, except Pink. O'Bannion is notable for being the most sadistic, and unlike the others, he does not accept the younger kids once the initiation is through.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Vicious bully O'Bannion gets his from a group of freshmen with buckets of paint.
  • Last Name Basis: Hirschfelder, O'Bannion, Pickford, Slater and Wooderson.
  • Moral Guardian: The coaches of the football team are trying to get the whole team to sign a no drinking/smoking/toking pledge. Played with in that they're not nearly so concerned about the morality (or legality) of such actions as they are having a winning team.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: All of the ads (trailers, posters, TV spots) promoted it as a Stoner Flick. There's one prominent supporting character and a few bit parts who actually are. On the other hand, weed is a constant presence at every teen gathering, and even those who don't indulge casually acknowledge it.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Played around with. Being a warts'n'all depiction of seventies teendom, we see all the things they enjoyed and also all the things they endured. Particular note should be made of the scene where last day of school ends, and "School's Out" playing gloriously on the soundtrack... as children run like their asses are on fire to get away from a gang of bullies.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Tony, Mike and Cynthia, the three most intellectual teens and apparent longtime friends, show no romantic interest in each other, and do not act jealous when they show interest in other people.
    • Though Tony and Mike do get a bad case of Squick when Wooderson flirts with Cynthia, and she obviously likes it.
    • Massive flirtation goes on throughout, but serious relationships are barely alluded to by any of the characters. Mitch may have a future with (slightly) older woman Julie, though.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Randall "Pink" Floyd.
  • Politically Motivated Teacher: Ms. Stroud.
    Okay guys, one more thing, 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 taxes.
  • Random Events Plot: There really isn't a plot per se. Everyone just drives around after school ends until the party starts. Even things, things still just sort of happen.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The ending was originally supposed to feature Kevin Pickford and Michelle smoking weed with Floyd and the others. Cast in-fightingnote , however, meant that Kevin was replaced with Wooderson.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: American Graffiti IN THE SEVENTIES!
    • Except deliberately not if you listen to the commentary. While American Graffiti had a specific plot and attempted to be "the ultimate '50s movie", this film was about just some night and just some party. If anything, it's more like Slacker IN THE SEVENTIES.
  • The '70s
  • Shout-Out: One of Pink's friends calls Tony and Mike "Woodward and Bernstein".
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Pink is the only main character that appears on the movie poster and DVD cover.
  • The Stoner: Slater, and to lesser extents Kevin and Michelle.
  • Stoners Are Funny: The point of Slater.
  • That Nostalgia Show: To the '70s.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Tony, Mike, and Cynthia.
  • Wild Teen Party: Initially subverted, as the keg delivery guy comes early, tipping off Kevin's parents. But later played straight: there is in fact a wild teen party, but it happens out in the woods, away from houses and parents.