tek's rating:

Dazed and Confused (R)
A.V. Club; Criterion; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Universal; Wikipedia
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This came out in 1993. I feel like I started watching it on TV in college once (in like 1995 or so), but didn't get very far, and I didn't recall anything about it if I did see any of it. I finally watched the whole movie on Hulu in 2022. It did not do well at the box office, but it did well with critics, and has become a cult classic. Before writing my review, I figured I'd put it in the "period" section, which I ultimately did do, because it's set in 1976. I found that I had it listed in both period movies I want to see and coming of age movies I want to see, but decided not to include a link to my review in the latter section, because I didn't feel like much of any coming of age actually happened in the movie. (But you might have a different definition of "coming of age" than I do, even though my own definition is pretty vague.)

It's set on the last day of school, mostly after school lets out. There's not much of a plot, just people driving around or hanging out and eventually partying. Some kids who are going to be seniors in the fall chase kids who are going to be freshmen and beat them with paddles made in shop class. One of those freshmen is Mitch, which is one of the few names I actually learned while watching the movie, and he's one of the few people who actually seemed at all like a real character, to me. For the most part the people in the movie just seemed random, and everything they did seemed random. I guess I enjoyed the movie, at least partly because of its randomness, but that same randomness made it impossible for me to enjoy it much. I tend to need more of a plot to really care about a movie, and it would help to have more characters I actually care about at all. Another person who seemed kind of like a proper character was played by Adam Goldberg, though I never managed to remember the character's name. (It was Mike.) There were various other familiar faces, including Jason London, Joey Lauren Adams (though until the end credits, I thought it was Renee Zellweger), Milla Jovovich, Parker Posey, and Matthew McConaughey. Ben Affleck also had a significant role (O'Bannon, the worst of the hazers), though I completely failed to recognize him. And there were a lot of other actors who remain completely unfamiliar to me. Anyway... I didn't find anyone particularly likable (though a few were okay), and a lot of characters I particularly disliked. Anyone who goes around beating younger kids just for the fun of it is an asshole. Plus some of them (including Mitch, who after his beating gets to hang out with some seniors) destroyed people's property. There was a lot of underage drinking and some smoking of weed, which didn't really bother me. One character who was kind of memorable was Slater (though I also didn't manage to remember his name while watching the movie). I didn't really like McConaughey's character (Wooderson), because he was a creep (he had graduated some time ago, so he was in his early 20s, but he was still into high school girls). Also there's a plot thread about London's character (Pink) being unsure whether he wants to continue playing football next season, but certain he doesn't want to sign a paper promising to avoid drugs and sex and stuff.

I'm not sure what else to say, except that the movie has a lot of really good music. That helped make it entertaining, I guess. But I cannot overstate how random it all is.


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