Was there a short? The world will never know. What we do know is that Padberg decided to show 1993’s Dazed and Confused, directed by Richard Linklater. No, seriously, Linklater. OK, fine, link now. Amazingly, we have shown four of Linklater’s films thus far – in addition to today’s film we’ve shown the first two installments of the ever-increasing Before [Insert time] series and A Scanner Darkly.
But for now, it’s time to live-review Dazed and Confused. I don’t recall a lot of plot (mostly high school seniors partying), but maybe there will be something there the second time. (Edit: nope.)
Now, the movie starts…with the wrong song. Sweet Emotion? If there ain’t Led Zeppelin title tracking going on in this movie, I’m gonna give it an F.
It’s the last day of school, 1976. People are smoking doobies before school and making plans for the party later, making bongs in woodshop, and recalling dreams about having sex with women with the head of Abraham Lincoln. The major conflict in the film (outside of the freshman beatings delivered by Angry Baby-Faced Ben Affleck) is that the football coaching staff has asked the next year’s seniors to sign a no-drug pledge, and pretty-boy quarterback Randall “Pink” Floyd is too honest to just sign it and smoke up anyway, which is what all the rest of the guys are gonna do.
Once school lets out the new seniors set about hazing the incoming freshman. Beatings for the boys, pacifiers for the girls, you know the standard sort of stuff that probably happens nowhere. Really, the girls get it worse. Mustard, ketchup, flour, oatmeal, and eggs all over them? Taken through the car wash in the back of a pickup truck?
This while Ben Affleck goes about with a paddle trying to beat on the boys. But honestly, how many things would have improved in this world if little Carl’s shotgun-wielding mother had just pulled the trigger on Affleck instead of letting him unleash trash like Pearl Harbor and Gigli on us? Instead, she lets him live and he catches up with little Mitch Kramer (who looks like a baby Tim Lincecum) after his baseball game, resulting in a severe beating. (Who schedules a baseball game after the last day of school? Where are the adults in this parking lot?)
The party gets a bit disrupted when the beer kegs arrive before Kevin Pickford’s parents leave on their vacation, which is a major drag and eventually forces everybody to drive around aimlessly.
OK, seriously, we’re 45 minutes into the movie, nothing but hazing and boozing and drugging going on – and NO LED ZEPPELIN. Plenty of classic rock, we’ve got Milla Jovovich and Matthew McConaughey and Jason London and Joey Lauren Adams and Parker Posey but NO LED ZEPPELIN. But hey, more beatings! And multiple instances of garbage-can-mailbox-smashing and other wanton destruction. And paint dumped all over Ben Affleck by the freshmen, which is at least marginally satisfying.
Finally, the “party” moves out to the “moon tower”, which is some old water tower or something in the woods. Smoking, drinking, fighting, making out. Seniors hooking up with freshmen. More smoking. The party breaks up around dawn and Pink along with a few others head to the football field and mock the coach where they get busted by the cops for…sitting on the football field, I guess. The whole incident ends with Pink throwing the balled-up pledge into the coach’s face and picking his loser friends over being a football star so he can smoke pot and show it to the man.
So after over an hour and a half, you’ve got no plot, a series of bad decisions, and a title taken straight from a Led Zeppelin song in a film featuring exactly NO LED ZEPPELIN. Seriously, what was the point, here?