Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Arts

Rated or Dated: Dazed and Confused

Standard Issue writers are revisiting a film/book/TV series to see if it’s stood the test of time. With a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused in the pipeline, Hannah Dunleavy revisits the weed- and excellent trouser-fuelled movie.

Matthew McConaughey as WoodersonWhat and why: “There’s a new fiesta in the making as we speak.”

And by that we mean the news is Richard Linklater is putting the finishes touches to Dazed and Confused’s “spiritual sequel”, now named Everybody Wants Some.

Released in the UK in 1994, his third film tells the tale of the last day of term in summer 1976 for some soon-to-be seniors in suburban Austin, Texas. A whole lot of nothing happens – and what does is inane, weird and varying degrees of cruel. They smoke a metric shitload of weed, drive around, torment and physically abuse younger children, vandalise stuff and, eventually, converge out of town where they all get hammered and fail to split up a fight. In mostly amazing trousers.

Alright, alright, alright.

Rated or Dated: I first saw this at university and it immediately became something – like Withnail & I or Trading Places before it and Con Air and Rushmore after it – I had an infinite capacity to watch when there were so much more pressing things to do.

If anything reminds you that you’ve spent way too much time watching something, it’s that after a decade apart, you can still quote most of it verbatim. (“It’s like our sergeant told us before one trip into the jungle. MEN! Fifty of you are going on a mission. Twenty-five of you ain’t coming back.”)

If I was worried I might have already seen Dazed and Confused one too many times, it didn’t last long. What’s so great about the ‘trip into the jungle’ scene isn’t the speech but the boys’ reaction. Similarly, Mike’s rant that leads him to conclude he should fight the school bully to prevent himself becoming insignificant might since have become an Adam Goldberg speciality, but I’d completely forgotten that it elicits laughter rather than concern from his friends.

“Perhaps the greatest joy of rewatching is the sheer purposelessness of it all. Nothing happens.”

The strangest thing about watching again is that this is the first time I’ve seen Dazed and Confused since the second coming of Matthew McConaughey. Despite the film having a feast of recognisable faces – including Ben Affleck, Cole Hauser and Parker Posey – he always ruled the roost as the oddly respectful, sex-pest man-child, who really should have something better to do with his time than hang around with a load of teenagers.

In fact, such is the joy of Wooderson, I spent the first 20 minutes or so in anticipation of his arrival (see also Mickey in Rocky).

It’s a completely delightful performance – who else could pull off that L.I.V.I.N. nonsense? – and it’s nice to watch it without the tinge of sadness that it will probably be the best thing McConaughey will ever do.

But perhaps, the greatest joy of rewatching is the sheer purposelessness of it all. Nothing happens. There’s no great central romance – although Shawn Andrews and Milla Jovovich do still take a prize for one of the most aesthetically pleasing couples ever – no redemption arc, nothing. Just teenagers looking for something to do, something to smoke, someone to fight, someone to snog.

Shawn Andrews and Milla JovovichYes, there’s a bit of the cod philosophising that Linklater employed so heavily in Before Sunrise, but since most of it emerges from the mouth of someone who’s completely stoned out of their gourd, it never seems pretentious. Besides, I’m fairly certain Martha Washington was a hip, hip lady.

BUT IS IT RATED OR DATED?

That’s what I love about these high school films, man. I get older, they stay the same age. And by that, I mean rated. R.A.T.E.D.

@funnypunts

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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.