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. This is Richard Linklater’s followup to his no-budget Slacker.
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, before the summer’s serious business of drinking, fighting and generally humiliating each other and themselves.
In this suburban delirium, a few personalities 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.
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.