Along with those cited, thespers making very strong impressions include Rory Cochrane as a goofy stoner, Adam Goldberg as a fast-talking intellectual and, especially, Matthew McConaughey (a ringer for young Dennis Hopper) as an unflappable drop-out who can’t quite keep away from high school. In the sense of career-launching potential, “Dazed” could be a “Diner” for the ’90s.
Dazed and Confused
(Teen drama -- Color)
A Gramercy Pictures release of an Alphaville production in association with Detour Films. Produced by Jim Jacks, Sean Daniel, Richard Linklater. Directed, written by Linklater.
Camera (color), Lee Daniel; editor, Sandra Adair; production design, John Frick; art direction, Jenny C. Patrick; costume design, Katherine (K.D.) Dover; sound, Jennifer McCauley; assistant directors, John Cameron, Sarah Addington; second-unit camera, Layton Blaylock; casting, Don Phillips. Reviewed at the Seattle Film Festival, June 4, 1993. Running time: 94 min.
Pink ... Jason London
Mitch ... Wiley Wiggins Don ... Sasha Jenson
Slater ... Rory Cochrane
Michelle ... Milla Jovovich
Cynthia ... Marissa Ribisi
Mike ... Adam Goldberg
Tony ... Anthony Rapp
Sabrina ... Christin Hinojosa
Daria ... Parker Posey
Wooderson ... Matthew McConaughey
O'Bannion ... Ben Affleck
Coach Conrad ... Terry G. Kross
With: Michelle Burke, Cole Hauser, Jason O. Smith, Nicky Katt, Catherine Morris, Jeremy Fox, Deena Martin, Joey Lauren Adams.
The teenage wasteland, 1976-style, of "Dazed and Confused" is smack-dab between "The Brady Bunch" and "Children of the Damned," and it's a scary, if sometimes giddily amusing, place to visit. Richard Linklater's followup to his no-budget "Slacker" is sure to attract support from urban Gen-Xers, but the pic's unrelieved nihilism -- including brutal male "bonding," rampant drug use, and f-word frenzy -- may keep it out of mall-plexes where its most appropriate auds are found.
All the action takes place within 24 hours, as listless Austin, Texas, teens endure their last day of school, making bongs in shop and cataloguing every episode of "Gilligan's Island" in history (while teachers doze or recall their exploits in Nam or Woodstock), before heading on to the summer's serious business of drinking, fighting, and generally humiliating each other and themselves.
In this suburban delirium, a few personalities -- mostly male and white -- emerge: Pink (Jason London) is a gentle, hunky quarterback unsure about his future in football; his pal Don (Sasha Jenson) is less interested in sports than in developing his gal-getting patter, and O'Bannion (Ben Affleck) takes the ritualistic paddling of new freshmen to psycho-sexual extremes.
One victim is the slight, scraggly haired Mitch (Wiley Wiggins), who gets invited to join the older boys in their graduation-night debauchery.
Roughly the age of helmer Linklater in those Bicentennial days, Mitch is intended to be our semi-innocent guide, but with more than 30 recurring roles, it's a wonder even he can keep track of them.
One-liners and dry sight gags still abound, but the ennui-sodden formlessness of "Slacker" doesn't fly as well in this $ 6 million, smoothly lensed package, which calls for shapelier narrative and resolution.
And while London is soulful enough to make Pink's plight intriguing, his indecision about whether to sign a no-drug pledge for a hard-ass coach just doesn't carry the urgency that has driven coming-of-age studies from "American Graffiti" to "Hangin' With the Homeboys."
Reaction to "Dazed" can be expected to divide along gender and generational lines, with older auds turned off by the tale's hollow emotional center, and women offended by Linklater's lack of substantial interest in his female characters.
Few, though, would contest its pivotal song-selection, with everyone from Foghat and Peter Framptonto Joan Jett and War setting the stage perfectly. (Just as the film world preemed in Seattle, Linklater had just received permission to use the Led Zep title song and it is sure to show up in future prints.)
Katherine Dover's beige-flared, butterfly-collared costuming is also dead-on ... unfortunately. What the pic is most likely to be remembered for, however, is the consistently fine quality of its too-large ensemble, with the helmer notably adept at mixing professionals with rank first-timers (linchpin Wiggins was spotted in an Austin coffee shop).