Dazed and Confused review, Dazed and Confused DVD review

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Buy your copy from Amazon.com Dazed and Confused (1993) starstarstarstarhalf star Starring: Jason London, Wiley Wiggins, Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Cole Hauser, Parker Posey, Joey Lauren Adams, Rory Cochran, Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp, Marissia Ribisi, Milla Jovovich
Director: Richard Linklater
Rating: R
Category: Comedy

If you could pick just one film that best defined the ‘70s, what would it be? Color me crazy, but Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused” is a prime candidate, even if it wasn’t actually made during the decade in question. An entertaining slice-of-life movie about growing up in the 1970s, “Dazed and Confused” nails almost every aspect of teenage culture. And while it may not seem like there’s much going on in the story, that's kind of the point. The film is one of the most realistic portrayals of the high school experience, and that’s why it's continued to endure for all these years.

Juggling more than a dozen characters throughout, the film never officially designates a main protagonist, but perhaps the two most relevant characters are Randall “Pink” Floyd (Jason London), senior and star quarterback who enters summer break with a very important decision to make (sign an anti-drug commitment or suffer the consequences), and Mitch Krammer (Wiley Wiggins), an incoming freshman who, after receiving his complimentary hazing from the seniors, embraces the high school culture of beer, weed, and women. Then there’s Mike, Tony and Cynthia (Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp and Marissa Ribisi, respectively), a trio of philosophical nerds eager to have a good time, senior jocks O’Bannion and Benny (Ben Affleck and Cole Hauser, respectively), resident stoner Slater (Rory Cochran), Queen bees Darla and Simone (Parker Posey and Joey Lauren Adams, respectively), and Matthew McConaughey as Wooderson, that guy who never left high school even though he graduated years ago.

And that’s only half of the cast, though most of the remaining characters (including Milla Jovovich, who only has three lines throughout the entire film) can’t exactly be considered major players. The main group of actors all do a great job with their respective roles, though none are as finely tuned as Affleck’s paddle-happy jock, O’Bannion. Playing the quintessential asshole flawlessly, this is easily Affleck’s best role to date, and one that likely gave him plenty of experience playing similar characters (see “Mallrats” and “Boiler Room”) later down the road. In fact, Linklater’s film is packed with familiar stereotypes (Affleck as the asshole; Posey as the bitch; Goldberg as the spineless brain; and Nicky Katt as the town bully), but what makes the characters so fundamentally different from every other teen comedy is that they’re not molded from the idea of people you knew in high school – they are the people you knew in high school.

That would explain why watching the coming-of-age tale feels a lot like hanging out with your friends, and even more so why “Dazed and Confused” is one of the best films made about the ‘70s. It doesn’t exactly capture the essence of the decade with any specific flair, but it seamlessly portrays what it was like to be a teenager in 1976. The rock ‘n roll soundtrack comprised of such legendary musical acts like Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, ZZ Top, KISS and Lynyrd Skynyrd only help to validate the time period, and while “Dazed and Confused” may never be considered a great film, it’s fanatical cult status will undoubtedly continue to grow with each passing year.

DVD Review:
The Criterion Collection has never been one to disappoint with their premium DVD release of classic films, and they’re not about to start now. Appearing on a two-disc set and featuring an all-new digital video transfer, “Dazed and Confused” comes loaded with hours of bonus material, a copy of the original movie poster, and a 74-page booklet that includes character profiles, cast memoirs, and three excellent critical essays.

The first disc of the set features the new transfer of the film (looking better than ever), a full-length audio commentary with writer/director Richard Linklater (recorded Jan 20th, 2006), and seventeen deleted scenes that were obviously cut for time. Unfortunately, this resulted in the loss of a hilarious little scene between Parker Posey and Joey Lauren Adams, but I can understand why it was removed – it doesn’t serve the story in any way.

Disc two contains a bulk of the bonus material, including the excellent 50-minute documentary, “Making ‘Dazed’,” featuring footage from the 1992 production of the film and the 2003 cast/crew reunion. Also included are character interviews (which Linklater made all of the principal actors participate in to better understand their roles), cast/crew interviews, and tons of behind-the-scenes footage spanning a decade.

~Jason Zingale


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