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"Dazed and Confused"

Click to buy at Amazon.com Reviewed by Terry Cochran

“You cool man?” “...Like how?” Sound familiar to you? What do you remember of the summer of 1976? Set in a small town in Texas on the last day of school, "Dazed & Confused" is a fictionalized story from director David Linklater's own youth. A real blast from the past for anyone who grew up during the 1970's, the character traits are based on some of the more typical prototypes of the time: Jocks, the popular kids, dorks, stoners, etc.

The upcoming seniors are hazing the upcoming freshman, a few friends are trying to get Aerosmith tickets, and everyone is either causing an all around ruckus, trying to party, get stoned, get drunk, or get laid. "Dazed & Confused" is a period piece, a cult classic with a great soundtrack of popular songs from the late 1970’s, including music by Foghat, Alice Cooper, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Ted Nugent, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, the Steve Miller Band, the Edgar Winter Group, and Peter Frampton.

Released in 1993, many of the characters in this ensemble cast are played by famous actors before they became stars, including Matthew McConaughey, who plays “Wooderson,” the seemingly shady older guy who hangs with the high school kids, and Ben Affleck, playing "O'Bannion," the jerk. Others who furthered their developing careers after this film’s release include Jason London, Joey Lauren Adams, Milla Jovovich, Parker Posey, Adam Goldburg, Anthony Rapp, and Rory Cochrane.

"Dazed & Confused" represents one of the better entries in the film genre fans affectionately refer to as stoner flicks. It is a perfect blend of post-hippy idealism balanced with feelings of melancholy and betrayal left behind by the Watergate scandal and Vietnam. The characters look forward to an uncertain future but are unable to see far beyond getting out of high school, especially now when all they can think about is the just barely here, much anticipated, summer vacation.

There is no real plot per se, but pivotal moments keep the story flowing, moments like ritual hazing, an end of school year “kegger” that ends up a bust (but leads to a bigger better beer bust later), doobie cruising in muscle cars, stops at the Top Notch drive in, flirting, pool at the Emporium, minors buying and drinking beer, and the all time quotable quote: "You just gotta keep livin' man, L-I-V-I-N."

The film is notable not just for its encapsulation of the summer of 1976 or for its party hearty theme (although that certainly plays a major role), but more so for its introspective mood amongst all the partying and illegal substance use. Richard Linklater keeps up the mildly chaotic pace of the film with plenty of humor, but he also shows many of the main characters worrying and wondering about the future and what it holds for them.

To listen to or buy songs in MP3 format from the soundtrack see below:

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