Monday, October 14, 2013

Dazed and Confused (1993)

Dazed and ConfusedI love this movie. It's one of my favorite teen comedies. It helped jump start the careers of the film's soon-to-be stars, such as: Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Matthew McConaughey, Rory Cochrane, Jason London, and Milla Jovovich, to name a few. By the end of my first viewing, I was hooked. I became obsessed with the movie, and have seen it so many times that I've lost count, and it's still fresh and hilarious with every viewing (which is rare for a film)! It has become one of my favorite movies of all time, as well.

It doesn't necessarily have a plot, it's basically about the last day of school at a high school in a small town in Texas in 1976. The soon-to-be seniors are initiating the soon-to-be freshmen, A few friends are trying to get Aerosmith tickets, and everyone is trying to party or get stoned, drunk, or laid. Oh yeah. Dazed and Confused is definitely a cult classic, and a movie I could watch easily over a million times. Even though it's about the END of the school year, it's still fun to watch whenever. Oh, and Slater is my favorite character by far. The soundtrack is AWESOME as well, featuring songs by: Aerosmith, Foghat, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, War, ZZ Top, Peter Frampton, KISS, Steve Miller Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

This is, hands down, one of the greatest teen movies ever made. People who grew up in the 70's claim this movie captures the time perfectly (just read some of the reviews here!), and this movie is definitely a must see. It'll make every young viewer wish they were there partying and having a good time, and every adult remember the good times they had during their teenage years. So, if you're looking for an entertaining flick to watch or want a flick that you AND your buddies will enjoy, check out "Dazed and Confused".

And for those who are angry that another DVD release of this film is out, you should just give your old D&C DVDs away and grab this one. In fact, Universal are the ones who SCREWED us, the fans, with their lackluster efforts for BOTH of the DVDs they've released (the barebones edition and the Flashback edition). Sure they REMASTERED the film for the Flashback edition, but there could've been so much more on THAT edition. Linklater was supposively going to record a commentary for the Flashback edition, but he didn't meet Universal's deadline, so they decided to release the DVD without the Making Dazed 10th anniversary documentary AND Linklater's commentary, hence, he was disappointed with the Flashback edition DVD, and Criterion gave Linklater enough freedom to put all of the bonus features he wanted on a "Dazed" DVD. They even allowed him and cinematographer Lee Daniel to supervise the high definition transfer of the film that will be used on the Criterion DVD. However, the HD transfer will be down converted to DVD resolution for the DVD release. It's impossible for the standard DVD format to reach the resolution of High Definition, although DVDs (especially now) can look very good.

Special features include the following:

* All new high-definition digital transfer, supervised by Richard Linklater and cinematographer Lee Daniel

* Audio commentary by Linklater

* "Making Dazed," a 50-minute documentary by filmmaker Kahane Corn

* Booklet featuring new essays by film critic Kent Jones, music critic Jim DeRogatis, and author Chuck Klosterman, plus character profiles, and memories of the film from cast and crew

* More than two hours of rare on-set interviews and behind-the-scenes footage featuring cast and crew

* Footage from the 10-year anniversary celebration

* Audition footage

* Deleted Scenes

* Original trailer

* Collectible film poster

Fans of this movie have had to suffer two bare bones editions before finally being richly rewarded with this new special edition from the fine folks at the Criterion Collection.

The first disc features an audio commentary by writer/director Richard Linklater who is clearly still bitter about how the studio screwed him over and mentions it frequently. He talks at length about which parts of the film are autobiographical in his usual, easygoing, genial way, delivering yet another top notch track filled with great anecdotes, smart observations and cautionary tales about the dangers of working with a Hollywood studio.

Also included are 17 deleted scenes, including footage of Pink and his friends stealing the statues that we see later on in the film painted as the band members from Kiss.

There is also a theatrical trailer.

The second disc kicks off with an impressive, 50 minute retrospective documentary entitled "Making Dazed" that combines behind-the-scenes footage from 1992 with the ten-year cast and crew reunion with more recent interviews as well. This is a fascinating look at the challenges that Linklater faced on his first studio movie.

"Auditions" features footage of 12 cast members reading for the film. It is pretty easy to see why they were cast as they slip into character quite naturally especially someone like Rory Cochrane who eerily becomes Slater or Nicky Katt who effortlessly embodies his redneck bully.

"Beer Bust at the Moon Tower" features cast members being interviewed in character during the first week of rehearsal in an effort to get them familiar with their roles. Also included are cast interviews that look like they were done early on in production or during filming. Highlights include an amusing and candid clip of Wiggins and Christine Harnos before their kissing scene in the movie. There is also quite a bit of behind-the-scenes footage that was seen only briefly in "Making Dazed."

Finally, there is an impressive 72-page booklet with essays and interviews. And to top it all off a fold out movie poster is included as well.

Buy Dazed and Confused (1993) Now

"Dazed and Confused" represents one of the better entries in the film genre fans affectionately refer to as the stoner picture. After viewing this movie, I started thinking about this much maligned cinematic rubric. How many films, I wondered, fall within this category? Well, there are the Cheech and Chong movies that emerged in the 1970s, a series of films that really deserve their own special niche. What else? "The Stoned Age" came out one year after "Dazed and Confused" arrived on the scene. There are probably many more that I could not recall, but the mother of all stoner films has to be the amazing "Over the Edge," a movie notable for showcasing Matt Dillon in his first film roll, but also because of its gritty '70s feel and its wonderful fusion of youthful alienation with suburban sprawl. "Over the Edge," sadly unavailable on DVD as of this date, should serve as the standard by which viewers should measure all other stoner films. In that respect, "Dazed and Confused," while suffering a few problems, does a nice job of keeping the tradition alive.

Set in a small Texas town in the 1970s, "Dazed and Confused" follows the various misadventures of a group of high school students on the last day of school, covering a period of mere hours from the end of the school day to the obligatory beer bash held that evening. The cast of characters here is huge, ranging from a small band of junior high students about to become freshman to high school juniors about to become seniors. There's Randall "Pink" Floyd (Jason London), the high school football star who is having some doubts about signing a team pledge to refrain from drugs and alcohol during his senior year. Several of his buddies, including Fred O'Bannion (Ben Affleck) and the team coach, give him grief about his hesitancy to give in to this blatant attempt at control. In the meantime, the gang of jocks and their female counterparts take great joy in engaging in the time-honored ritual of hazing the incoming freshman class. This activity involves chasing the hapless kiddies around town in automobiles in order to administer a rather vicious beating with a stout wooden paddle. One of these new freshmen, Mitch Kramer (Wiley Wiggins) attempts to avoid the inevitable until some seniors catch him after one of his baseball games. Floating on the periphery of these scenes is a trio of eggheads (played by Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp, and Marissa Ribisi) and an aging stoner, David Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey), who cannot let go of his high school years.

The scenes in "Dazed and Confused" unfold in a chaotic manner, perhaps in an effort to mirror the randomness of American youth during the 1970s. A planned party at the house of a kid whose parents are going on vacation comes to naught when a delivery truck attempts to deliver a keg as the shocked adults look on. With this party effectively put on ice, the search is on for a new place to toss back a few cold ones. Most of the kids spend a lot of time driving around town, always on the lookout for some action. After receiving his beating, Mitch Kramer discovers a newfound friendship with Randall Floyd, who invites the diminutive frosh to accompany him on an excursion to the local hangout. Meanwhile, the three brainiacs cruise around town throwing out the most hilarious observations about their future and the state of the country (my favorite line equates Gerald Ford's football injuries with the state of the economy). The kegger contains the things those who went to these atrocities in high school would expect: someone gets in a fight, new relationships form and dissolve, and the stoner archetype goes off on a rant about drugs. The movie ends with no concrete answers about where these kids will go or what the future holds for them.

The movie is notable not for its party hard theme, although that certainly plays a big role here, but for its introspective mood. Director Richard Linklater punches up the film with plenty of humor, such as Affleck's over the top role as the school jerk, but he also shows many of these characters worrying and wondering about the future and what it holds for them. Some of these scenes will break your heart. For example, David Wooderson tells his high school buddies about how the real world is a drag because of its rules and how he just does what he wants no matter what the cost. Everyone knew this guy, and also saw him fail in life. Randall Floyd muses about his high school career, stating that "if these are the best years of my life, remind me to kill myself." The last scene of the film, with that open road stretching into the distance--and into the uncertain future, for that matter--really sums up the what this movie is about.

I think the viewer who will understand this movie the best will be the person who went to high school and has been out of that place for a period of years. That way you can appreciate the humorousness of the various characters while understanding the implications of their actions. The people who were not caught up in high school because they understood that four years is only a small part of the grand sweep of life were the ones who generally succeeded after leaving the hallowed halls. "Dazed and Confused" makes you realize this fact. Although the film is a little too fractured, resulting in several undeveloped characters, it really is an honest look at a painful time in our lives. I highly recommend it, but prepare yourself for nostalgia pangs and a heavy dose of even more painful '70's atmosphere along the way.

Read Best Reviews of Dazed and Confused (1993) Here

The 4 stars are for the movie. While this DVD is terrible in terms of extras I must confess I did buy it because it was cheap, has a great glittery cover, is anamorphic (the last one wasn't) and has a Dolby/DTS 5.1 soundtrack instead of the cruddy 2.0 sound on the last one.

The movie is great but the DVD ain't up to scratch. Linklater has said he is working on HIS OWN special edition with Criterion, which will include loads of cool stuff (much like Criterion have recently done with Linklater's Slacker). Universal denied Linklater this right with their 'Flashback' release so sit tight and wait for the definitive version.

If available cheap I am allowing you to buy to tide you over. Any REAL fan of the film wouldn't buy this version for an everlasting keep.

Want Dazed and Confused (1993) Discount?


Audio commentary by director Richard Linklater

Making Dazed: Fifty-minute documentary by Kahane Corn

Rare on-set interviews and behind-the-scenes footage

Footage from the ten-year anniversary celebration

Audition footage and deleted Scenes

Original theatrical trailer

Booklet featuring essays by Kent Jones, Jim DeRogatis, and Chuck Klosterman; memories of the film from the cast and crew; character profiles; and the original film poster by Frank Kozik



Deleted Scenes (SD; 14:27) offers a few bridging scenes, including some dealing with the infamous "pledge" the Coach wants everyone to sign. The video quality of these scenes is pretty spotty at times.

The Blunt Truth (SD; 4:21) is a parody of the old Educational Films documentaries many of us were forced to watch growing up in school, this one of course about the horrors of marijuana use.

Retro Public Service Announcements (SD; 2:03) are two PSA's which play like parodies but are actual vintage pieces, one about venereal disease (replete with bouncy theme song, and no I'm not kidding) and the other the famous littering ad featuring the crying Native American.

U Control has only one fairly lame toggle switch giving information on the tunes that fill the soundtrack.

I am getting the Criterion due to better extra features than the Universal extra features, I hope it will help deciding on your purchase!

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