#16. Dazed and Confused (1993)
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Wiley Wiggins, Jason London, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Cole Hauser, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich, Adam Goldberg
Dazed and Confused is Richard Linklater’s nostalgic and hilarious coming-of-age film that really established the now great director as one to watch. The ensemble period piece sees a wide range of characters about to enter – or finally finishing – high school in 1970’s Austin, Texas. Our cast of characters includes Randall “Pink” Floyd (Jason London), a kind-hearted high school senior whose major conflict involves his football coach, Mitch Kramer (Wiley Wiggins), a teen entering high school who endures some brutal hazing from the seniors, Fred O’Bannion (Ben Affleck), a bully who gets his rocks off on hazing freshmen, and David Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey), whose chasing of high school age redheads knows no bounds. These four characters are only some of the more than dozen memorable figures created by writer-director Richard Linklater. Dazed and Confused genuinely feels like a day in the life of these young people largely because of the variety of characters featured, and the relatable struggles they’re all navigating. These characters eventually all come together in the film’s climactic moon tower party scene, which is easily my all-time favorite movie party. Dazed and Confused is littered with memorable moments like the Abe Lincoln sex dream, the initial hazing of the freshmen boys and girls, and O’Bannion finally getting what’s coming to him after being one of the most grating, mean-spirited characters in the film. It’s clear that Linklater is writing from the heart, because every single part of Dazed and Confused feels tried and true, from the costumes, to the dialogue, to the film’s incredible soundtrack. The soundtrack selected for Dazed and Confused serves as a “best of” compilation for rock n roll in the mid-1970’s – featuring iconic songs from Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Foghat, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deep Purple, and KISS. The soundtrack has gone down as one of the best in movie history, and for good reason – it perfectly sets the tone of the film, and helps to establish its realistic period setting. Dazed and Confused is hilarious, poignant, memorable, and just plain fun. It’s a film I’ve seen dozens of times, and one I find more to love about every time I see it.