I think this movie was supposed to make Richard Linklater a big deal but it tanked. For me it doesn’t help that its legacy was launching the overrated, insufferable self-proclaimed favorite son of Austin…Matthew McConaughey. Contrary to the myth, he was always a no-talent, struggling actor before Dazed came to Austin. Oh yeah, it also gave Ben Affleck a small, humorous role. I have to admit, he became a decent director for the two things I’ve watched he worked on.
The upside? It was an early job for the likable Anthony Rapp from Star Trek: Discovery. I guess you could say the same of Milla Jovovich despite her never speaking. Then comes Indie Queen Parker Posey (her Dr. Smith for Lost in Space clobbers Gary Oldman) and the other Texan, Renée “bee-stung lips” Zellweger has a non-speaking part too.
The mixed…playing Austin/Travis County bingo and lamenting what we’ve lost over the last 30 years as we’re becoming the new overpriced, New Austin to accommodate all the Californicators and New York Hipsters. Contrary to the Texas Republicans, the exodus isn’t their tribe, it’s worse, the selfish Centrist class.
Anyway, I was never interested in seeing Dazed initially for several key reasons which I think contributed to its failure.
- It looked like yet another stoner comedy, especially how the poster’s byline plugged the plot. Cheech & Chong mined this genre to death by 1983.
- I was really sick and tired of Seventies nostalgia. The plague of the Nineties as Fashion, Hollywood and other dipshits love to recycle the trash of the previous 20-25 years!
- If imdb.com is to be believed (and often you can’t), they claim 1/6th of the budget was spent on getting the music rights. Pretty pricey for crap you hear on the radio every day for free.
A few months later, I moved to Austin and not many people spoke about it. You could see it every night at the Dobie Theater as the midnight feature for a year. Doc informed me our private dorm/employer was approached to house the cast during the Summer of 1992. The clueless GM refused since he was a small-town, ex-football coach asshole who believed whatever Rush Limbaugh said. Little did he know, the majority of them would be sleeping all day as the story takes place mostly at night.
After living in Austin for a few weeks and retaining the bad night owl life style I developed in college, I chose to see Dazed at Dobie. I hated it. I walked away thinking, what was the point? There’s no coherent story! It’s just a bunch of dumb, small-town teenagers getting high, drunk and thinking about how they’re going to rule the school next Fall. I don’t need to watch that! I lived it in North Dakota. I’m lucky Dazed didn’t give me some form of mild PTSD! So I went back the following evening, thinking I overlooked a key element or to confirm I just “don’t get it.” Good thing I did. Upon the second watching, I came away with a better hypothesis I continue to stick with as I’ve never asked Linklater for the answer. It’s really a day-in-the-life of the last day of school in a small town in Texas circa 1976. A little time slice covering about 24 hours. There’s no resolution to the ongoing conflicts facing Pink and the gang, those will play out over the Summer and Fall. Dazed is also a love letter to the late-stage Boomers and vanguard Gen Xers who were teens, tweeners and little kids (I’m in the last group, I would’ve been eight). It certainly caters to a few of my friends.
Obviously, Dazed joined the legion of Sleeper Hits that gained greater success and a core audience through cable and video rentals. It’s a shame how this Second Chance channel is gone due to the streaming services being a mystery with their numbers. We only know if something is a hit on Netflix if they say so, mainly plugging their productions, especially the chess thing with the actress who looks like someone smacked her forehead really hard.
So if you’ve never seen Dazed n’ Confused, give it a try. Linklater did well when he wanted to recapture the memories of the mid-Seventies. Years before the rather predictable and not funny That Seventies Show. It’s a great companion to the awesome Netflix show, F is for Family.
A rather different explanation for my Header Art!