Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Cinema Monolith: 8/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: *** out of 4
Released on September 24, 1993
Directed by Richard Linklater
Written by Richard Linklater
Cast: Jason London, Matthew McConaughhey, Wiley Wiggins, Milla Jovovich, Sasha Jenson, Rory Cochrane, Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp, Marissa Ribisi, Cole Hauser, Deena Martin, Renee Zellweger, Michelle Burke, Christine Harnos
A lighthearted and at times sentimental look at the last day of class at an Austin high school in 1976. Despite the preponderance of pot, beer, sex, and student-owned vehicles—none of which I experienced during my high school years—I was still impressed with how dead-on the film portrayed the look, tone, and essence of the mid-’70s and high school life, right down to the gas prices and the Hitchcock film Family Plot displayed on a theater marquee.
Not many ‘flashback’ films get these aspects quite right, and most resort to going overboard with the background and props; here, scenes featured cars from the ’50s and ’60s as well as the ’70s, the fashions and songs weren’t strictly from 1976, and the overall set design could be described as one of realistic understatement. In comparison, look at the recent under-achieving comedy Hot Tub Time Machine, and how it suffocated one with its misguided need to make everything and everyone a 1986 cliché.
Here, Richard Linklater did a fantastic job with both his direction and his screenplay, not resorting to Hollywood-level drama but instead creating an atmosphere that was simple and down-to-earth. Keeping with that mentality, the story was basically nothing but day-in-the-life vignettes, featuring different class levels of students—jocks, stoners, and geeks—intermingling with each other as they adventured and partied throughout the day and night; it was amazing to see the number of recognizable faces within the ranks of the students, including such future stars as Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich, Ben Affleck, and Parker Posey.
With this one, just sit back and have a good time. There really isn’t much to learn from all this, except that maybe I should’ve done something more with my high school years…like got involved in a club, or went out on a date, or hung out at a party or two. Or bought myself a ’71 Plymouth Barracuda and learned how to drive, for chrissake. (8/10)
Nice review Todd, enjoyed it. This is actually one of my favourite films, one I have watched many, many times over the years. A very ‘easy’ watch. Sadly school days in the UK in the 1980s were not particularly cool by comparison.
Thanks, Stu! It took a second viewing for me to really get into it, but now I think it’s great. I’d like to someday pick up that Criterion edition, and check out all the extras about the film. And like you, my high school days weren’t all that cool, either; in fact, if I was a character in the movie, I’d be the one just walking in the background of a few scenes, not involved with the plot and with no lines of dialogue. An extra, basically.
I don’t think anyone would stand out if all those talented actors were at the same high school! What chance has the normal person got?!!!
One chance: the Dazed and Confused: Detention television series!