A “higher” state of perfection: Why Dazed and Confused will always be my favourite High School movie

“You know what I love about High School girls’ man?”-David Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey) in Dazed and Confused

DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993)

Starring: Jason London, Rory Cochrane, Wiley Wiggins, Parker Posey, Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck

Written and Directed by: Richard Linklater

Distributed by: Universal and Gramercy Pictures

103 minutes

People always ask me what my favourite movie is. While I don’t want the column this week to turn into one of Laurence’s rants, I have to say it’s a pretty annoying question. How could one two hour production possibly sum up everything I love about the movies?

My stock answer for when I don’t feel like getting into it is The Shawshank Redemption (1994) (which I have to say is pretty darn close to being the perfect movie). But when I do feel like doing a little ranting of my own, what I tell people is that while its ridiculous to expect me to have one favourite movie,   I can easily pick favourites of specific actors, genres… etc. And when it comes to high school flicks, without a doubt my favourite is Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused.

First and foremost, this movie has one of the greatest soundtracks of all time. Music is crucial for many reasons to the success of a movie, and (besides maybe a Martin Scorsese or Wes Anderson movie) I can’t think of any other soundtrack out there that’s better than this one. Like a really great high that comes on slow but strong, the opening shot of a car gliding across the screen as “sweet emotion” blares sucks you in the world of Dazed and Confused and  never lets go.

Owing a lot to  (pre-Star Wars) George Lucas’s  American Graffiti (1973), Dazed and Confused has the same basic story: following various groups of kids (the jocks, the nerds, the pretty girls, the stoners)… as they drive around town with no particular place to go.  It’s not exactly the most revolutionary of movie ideas, but it works so well  because we all remember that point in our lives when you weren’t old enough to get into bars and the reckless behaviour trying to find your own produced good time. I find that not only teen movies but movies in general these days try to be too high-concept. When you have good people involved, reading a phone book can be completely engaging. The music comes in so well when the mood of being young, bored and rebellious is matched with Matthew McConaughey strut his stuff to Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane” or have a montage of the school being trashed to “School’s out” by Alice Cooper.

The popular girls at Lee High School

Even though the movie has about 800 people in it, writer/director Linklater’s script along with some very hilarious performances means that there are non-stop memorable characters and moments  throughout the film, which have gone on to become pop culture staples. We all remember McConaughey’s loser who grow up but still hangs around the high school kids, or Rory Cochrane as the most hilarious stoners ever put on film. (Yeah I’m “cool” Slater…)  My all time favourite character though? Queen Bitch supreme Darla Marks played to catty perfection by Indie goddess Parker Posey. Darla is the kind of girl that you hate/love/wanna be friends with so you can bitch about behind her back. All the ‘leads’ (aka those who have more then a few lines) are all well developed, fully realized characters which I love to death.

When I think about the fact that when I was 14/15 I was watching movies like Dazed and Confused and kids my age now are watching movies with Miley Circus, Justin Bieber and those god damn Twilight kids just really makes me sad, and I wonder where people tastes have gone. Oh look at that, I guess this turned into a rant after all :).

6 comments

  • Yeah, the reason why I love high school girls is “I keep getting older but they stay the same age.”

  • My favorite line is: you know why I love highschool girls? Cause u get older but they’re always the same age! 🙂

  • That of course is a classic, then there’s my personal fave;
    “I WANNA DANCE!”

  • oh yeah that was good Steph. I don’t want to go to law school! I wanna Dance!

  • “What are you looking at? Wipe that face off your head, bitch. …”

    I effing looooove this movie.

  • Fear the goat from the front the horse from the rear and man from all sides.

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