Cocktails and Movies Take Out Theater: “Dazed and Confused”


This week, Cocktails and Movies takes a look a cult classic about coming of age in small town Texas in 1976.

20 years ago September 24th, a film came (and went quickly) to theaters, making only $8 million at the box office. It was a coming of age film that featured an ensemble cast of future stars, including Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich, Matthew McConaughey, Cole Hauser, Jason London, Adam Goldberg and others.

The Film

Cocktails and Movies Take Out Theater Dazed and ConfusedDazed and Confused
Directed By: Richard Linklater (also writer)
Year Released: 1993
Starring: Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich
Rating: R
Runtime:  102 Minutes
Studio: Gramercy Pictures

It is May 28, 1976, the last day of school at Lee High School in the suburbs of Austin, Texas. The next year’s group of seniors are preparing for the annual hazing of incoming freshmen. When classes end, the incoming freshman boys are hunted down by the seniors and paddled. The incoming freshman girls are also hazed; they are rounded up in the school parking lot by senior girls and degraded both mentally and physically. Plans for the evening are ruined when Kevin Pickford’s parents discover he planned to host a keg party. As the evening progresses, students loiter around the Emporium, listen to rock music, cruise the neighborhood and stop at the hamburger drive-in. After the Emporium closes, an impromptu keg party is planned in a field under a moonlight tower. After the party ends and night turns to dawn, Pink, Wooderson, Don, and several other friends decide to party on the 50-yard line of the football field. The police arrive and recognizing Pink, they call Coach Conrad. Conrad lectures Pink about hanging out with “losers.” Pink and friends leave for Houston as freshman Mitch gets home, goes to his bedroom, puts on headphones and listens to “Slow Ride” by Foghat as Pink, Wooderson, Ron and Simone travel down a highway to purchase their tickets.

Dazed and Confused didn’t break any records when it hit the box office. In fact, it made only $8 million and was viewed as a stoner comedy and dismissed by audiences. Since then it has become a cult classic, garnering accolades from EW (17th on its “50 Greatest Cult Films”), Quentin Tarantino’s “10 Greatest Films of All Time, and 3rd in EW’s “50 Best High School Movies.” It’s a great film about coming of age in small town Texas (and really it could be ANY small town in America). It’s understated with less drama than what you would find in other high school films, and Richard Linklater himself said his intended purpose was to make an “inverse John Hughes film.”

“The drama is so low-key in [Dazed & Confused]. I don’t remember [being a] teenager being that dramatic. I remember just trying to go with the flow, socialize, fit in and be cool. The stakes were really low. To get Aerosmith tickets or not? That’s a big thing. It was really rare when the star-crossed lovers from the opposite side of the tracks and the girl gets pregnant and there’s a car crash and somebody dies. That didn’t really happen much. But riding around and trying to look for something to do with the music cranked up, now that happened a lot!”

Dazed IS understated, but it packs in a lot of meaning. For those of us who grew up in small, one high school towns in rural America, we can immediately identify with or identify in others, the characters up on the screen. I was either Tony (Anthony Rapp) or Mike (Adam Goldberg), the intellectual nerds/uncool types. My sister was was a hybrid of Jodi (Michelle Burke) and Darla (Parker Posey). What’s great about the film is the recognizing the depth of each senior class character and watching their upcoming freshman “replacement.” Randy “Pink” Floyd (Jason London) is the lynch pin between the stoners, jocks and nerds. He moves easily between each group and is liked by all. He takes Mitch (Wiley Wiggins) under his wing and you can see how this freshman is going to be the next Pink. Mitch will easily fit in with upperclassmen (and the ladies), the jocks and the nerds. Similarly, Jodi does the same with freshman Sabrina (Christin Hinojosa), who finds a bit of romance with Tony.

Each character is dealing with facing the future, whether it’s entering the new world of high school, or facing the last year of the world they’ve come to know. And for some, it’s like they never left. Of course, I’m speaking to the most quoted character in the film, David Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey). Only referred to by his last name, Wooderson is THAT guy who never left high school, dating the young girls and riding around in a classic car. Played by McConaughey, he is the best part of the movie by far.

By itself, Dazed and Confused might be just another pastiche of stories about kids realizing who they are and growing up. What links the story together and keeps you engrossed is the superb soundtrack, including arguably one of the greatest opening music montage scenes ever to Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion.” The film contains a lot of classic rock and roll hits from the early to mid 1970’s, including Foghot, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, The Runaways, Sweet, War, KISS, and Black Sabbath and more. (Absent is Led Zeppelin, as Robert Plant denied permission for any usage.) Watching and listening to Dazed and Confused is a great movie to watch with friends and guzzle beers all  night.

Speaking of which…

The Drink

Beer. Lots of it. Other than the pregnant lady in the liquor store buying a bottle of booze (while smoking and being told to eat a “green thing everyday and have lots of calcium” by the owner), there is NO liquor seen in the entire movie. So, in keeping with that spirit, grab your favorite 6-er and put your feet up on the coffee table. See if you can find a 6-pack of Lone Star…

So there you have it! A fun movie to watch with friends, drinking beers and kicking ass. Turn the volume all the way up and take in the great soundtrack and think back to YOUR years growing up as you entered high school as a freshman and then facing down your senior year.

Thanks to all of you for coming back for another installment of #TakeOutTheater! Got any suggestions for film and drink pairings? Send ‘em our way through the Comments below, our Facebook/Twitter pages, or just email us. We’ll see you again next week!