Dazed and Confused Review
Dazed and Confused is a 1993 teen comedy film directed by Richard Linklater. It is a critically acclaimed work, but I found it to be one of the weaker films from the director.
It follows many groups of teenagers during the last day of school in 1976. This is evidently a realistic look at the seventies and this is obviously a personal film from Linklater and maybe even his most personal film to date. However, while it certainly shows you and presents you the decade in the right way, this is still a somewhat bland film with such a limited audience appeal as it is mostly focused on satisfying those who grew up during said decade.
Yes, there is almost none of the director’s signature sophisticated dialogue at display here and that truly is troublesome and to me an immense disappointment as I am such a big fan of his works. Yes, there are some really interesting and observant lines to be had here, but most of it is just neither that memorable nor clever. The plot itself is very episodic and too much in the vein of ‘American Graffiti’ which was already incredibly flawed as a film. It has excellent characterization, but there is never a statement made here and it never has anything important to say. Plus it also ends in an uninspired and forgettable way.
The character development in Dazed and Confused is excellent with all of the characters being very well realized and grounded in reality. And although this isn’t a varied group of teens and it basically shows the worst aspects of that decade, those that are present are still realistic. Randall is a typical and somewhat boring character, David is a typical but fun McCounaghey character and Mitch is at first unlikable, but very funny at times and the most realistic character of the bunch. And Cynthia, Tony and Mike are a very entertaining group and the most endearing bunch here.
The acting is really good. Wiley Wiggins is quite good and Matthew McCounaghey is so much fun and shares the most recognizable lines here. Everyone does a nice job here and the casting director in particular did a great job as all of the actors look the part and are so well chosen. Linklater also directed it fine and the film is polished. The pacing is okay and the film is very well shot. The attention to detail is overwhelming as everything here is wonderfully recreated and it feels like a 1970s movie how well made it is. It looks incredible from the clothes to the hairstyles to the cars to the drug obsessed behavior.
The score is also pretty good in Dazed and Confused as the songs are catchy and well chosen. As for the humor, I have to say that it is disappointing. Some of it is very funny and a couple of lines are just hilarious and very smart, but it is mostly not that funny for a comedy film and it definitely should have had more jokes. The emotion is also there, but the film is too reserved at times. But it does have its heart and is at times even charming to watch. It is very entertaining to watch and the film did hold my attention completely. It’s also pleasantly energetic and never boring. But the biggest problem here is the script that just recreates the decade and never adds any new or interesting layers to it. It is definitely a solid film and great as pure entertainment goes, but as a Linklater film, it is pretty weak and far from his best work.