Critical Kemp

Dazed and Confused

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Dazed and Confused

(Avail on DVD)   Actually I never would have thought to put this movie under the “Side B” umbrella, because so many of my friends have seen it – and we quote from it almost as often as Caddyshack – but evidently this movie was a bust at the box office.  $8 million isn’t pocket change of course, but in the context of movie making, even in 1993 dollars – it’s a flop.  This is a surprise because, watching the credits at the end of the movie would be the same experience as if you had someone read a crystal ball in 1993 of who would be the major actors of the next ten years.  I mean if “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982) was the launchpad of up & coming 80s actors, with Sean Penn, Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Jason Leigh and surprise two second appearances by Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards and Nicholas Cage (yes they were all in “Fast Times”), then “Dazed and Confused” is that vehicle for Class of 1993.  Ben Affleck as the dickhead bully O’Bannion, Matthew McConaughey as the original creepy highschool-girl poacher, Parker Posie, Cole Hauser, Adam Goldberg and many others all basically start their careers with “Dazed”.  And in the same way that “Fast Times” gave us a first glimpse of Nicholas Cage if you were lightening fast with your remote pause button, you can capture Renee Zellwegger washing cars in Daisy Dukes for about 10 frames, a full three years before “Jerry McGuire”.  Even Milla Jovovich sings handful of lyrics, which is more than she speaks in the film, several years before she releases her first 90s alternative album “The Divine Comedy” (which is actually fuckin great) and almost a decade before the “Resident Evil” franchise launches.

But this movie is universally liked, by both cult fans and critics alike, and while I didn’t graduate in 1976 and don’t remember the community wide hazing that is prevalent in the film, I still felt nostalgic for the time.  Adding to the lore of the cult status, my buddy Sense saw this film in a famous landmark theater of old school, Ocean Beach, San Diego, “The Strand”, in it’s last few years of operation.  If ever a movie were crafted to run in a specific venue, or vice versa, “The Strand” and “Dazed and Confused” were meant for one another.  The theater is located across from the local head shop, stands next to the biker bar and at any given time had either a fight, a drug dealer, a drunk or a hippy couple making out in front of it.  It’s actually a shame it’s closed, but if it opened, the only movies you’d want to see there are maybe “Rocky Horror Picture Show”, “Tommy” or “Dazed and Confused”, so I guess it’s cool.  But as these Critical Kemp recommendations are for home entertainment and should never be location-specific, let’s stay on course.  “Dazed” is as fun and as enchanting as they come.  OK to watch with buddies, or your girl…stoned…or hung over.  But beyond the star watching and trying to make out the young actors in their 70s hair, the characters they play are likable and familiar – so much so that you can’t help but compare them to people you knew back in school, and most times even miss.  Watching this will certainly make you want to go grab your fake ID and get six pack at the liquor store with an old buddy, even if you’ve been legal for a long fuckin time.  Most definitely, this movie is Rollin Approved.

– Critical Kemp

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