Plot: What’s it about?
It’s the last day of school in 1976, and all the high school kids in a small Texas town are looking to cash in on their first big night of summer. Some chase down freshman for iniation paddlings, some try to score the big kegger, and others just want a piece of the old poontang pie. The seniors reflect on their old glory days, and wonder what life will be like after high school, the football players discuss next year’s season, and some people just get drunk and hope they never see school again. The movie focuses in on several different groups, who do various things throughout the night, but all meet up at the same kegger out in the woods. No real plot to discuss, other than the movie allows us to see what each little group does to make the night special and memorable.
This movie is alright, but overbased on alcohol and drug use. Now, I realize that these things are abundant in high school, but come on, where do these kids get all this money? The movie draws many comparisons to another film entitled “The Stoned Age”, and I feel TSA surpasses Dazed and Confused in ever aspect, including realism, which is key in these teen flicks. The characters in this film are hard to relate to, as they all seem like popular people, I mean, where are the nerds, the people everyone laughed at? Granted, the movie only looks at the drug using, football playing, leg-spreading high schoolers, so I didn’t expect it, but that’s why this movie was such a disappointment for me. But I’m not saying the movie isn’t worth a watch, because it is, just on fun factor. But there are other movies out there (The Stoned Age, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club) which are more fun to watch, with more realistic characters. Dazed and Confused looks and sounds like a movie made in the 90’s, no effort was made to make it feel like the 70’s. This new Flashback Edition might disappoint some because of the minimal amount of extras, but the audio improvements and new transfer (on the widescreen version) do balance things out. I wish more extras were tacked on, such as Linklater’s audio comments, but this is a much improved edition. Just make sure you don’t wind up with the lame ass full frame version, like I did here.
The cast in this movie is pretty good, besides looking 5-10 years too old for the characters they play. A hilarious performance by Matthew McConaughey, as an aging hipster, high-lights the movie for me. “That’s what I like about these high school girls. I keep gettin’ older, but they stay the same age.” That quote is worth the rental alone. Also making appearances are Ben Affleck, Lauren Adams, Milla Jojovich, Jason London, Shawn Andrews, and my favorite, Parker Posey. So, I know I was hard on this picture, but I feel it gets a lot of undue praise, as other movies run circles around it. But hey, it’s a fun movie to watch, so don’t take my word for it, check it out, and find out for yourself.
Video: How does it look?
“Dazed and Confused” has been presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Unlike the previous release, this version has been given a new digital transfer and looks as good as it ever has. That said, it doesn’t look spectacular, but a lot of the dirt and grain that were so present on the previous version are now gone. There is a bit of softness to the image that was a bit distracting, but on the whole it’s a remarkable improvement over the former disc. Additionally, there is also a Full-Frame version out there and absolutely no reason to it (unless you want to deprive yourself of more Wooderson – and who would want to do that?)
Audio: How does it sound?
This is where this new Flashback Edition earns its stripes, as Universal has served up not one, but two new soundtracks. So in addition to a new Dolby Digital 5.1 treatment, we also have a DTS option, which is excellent news. This is a comedy driven by dialogue, dialogue, and more dialogue, but that doesn’t mean the audio is flat or lifeless. The surrounds are alive in both tracks, thanks to the rock music that dominates the movie. These songs come through in boisterous, grand form and really enhance the experience. When the bass booms and the guitars are in full bloom, you’ll feel like you’re right in the action yourself. The vocals are clean and clear also, so the audio is great here and the real reason to upgrade from the previous version.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The only supplement that is related to the film in direct form is the collection of deleted scenes, which are solid, but need to be spruced up a shade. You can also watch some lame ass Public Service Announcements, but why bother? I’ve heard rumors of a new Special Edition in the works, as director Richard Linklater wanted a full blown assortment of extras, but Universal refused to allow the time for that proper treatment. So if you’re a patient person, you could save a step and wait for the eventual definitive edition.