ENTRTNMNT Old-Lady Movie Night: ‘Dazed and Confused' Anne T. Donahue

Another week, another adult choice to eat candied popcorn in bed for dinner as opposed to doing anything that remotely resembles work. “But no more of that!” I said to myself, between handfuls of prawn-flavoured chips and cinnamon coffee. “I am going to watch a movie and feel really great about that choice!”

And that is what the holidays are for. They are for watching movies and lying in bed and pulling it together just enough to use a gift card to get a hot chocolate before curling up in front of a reality TV marathon that is exactly as terrible as it probably sounds.

So let’s get sloth-like together. And instead of throwing yet another holiday movie into the mix, let’s do the exact opposite: let’s choose a movie so drenched in sun and nostalgia that you might even try to organize a party at “the Moontower” despite it being approximately zero degrees outside.

That’s right, guys. This week’s movie is Dazed and Confused*.

Now, spoiler alert: this movie is old/old. And if you are anything like me, you probably watched it when you were a little bit older because there was no way in hell that your Mom and/or Dad (and/or anyone) was going to let you watch a bunch of teenagers act like just that. So remember the time you first saw it. Because man-oh-man, did high school ever seem like a barrel of laughs mixed with a feeling of horrible, good for nothing, terrible dread.

And how right we all were. (I blame you, Matthew McConaughey.)

1) ‘Sweet Emotion’ by Aerosmith is the greatest montage song of all time

Okay, well, that’s just a bold-faced lie. But HOW COOL does everyone look going about their daily activities to Steve Ty-man and the gang? EVERYONE LOOKS AWESOME. Everyone. All of the ones. And there’s a bro wearing overalls, for heaven’s sake.

2) The guy that played Slater played Lucas in Empire Records

But you knew that, you totally, totally knew that. (And then he went on to be in CSI: Miami! And what do you think that character say about Slater? I riddle you that.)

3) Everyone in this movie went on to be in a lot of other movies

You know, I was about to be all, “Adam Goldberg was in this!” and “The guy with the glasses was in Rent!” but then I realized that you didn’t come here to watch Dazed and Confused with the Encyclopedia Canadia, you came here to be number one. (See what I did there? I’m Canadian so I changed it from Britannica and why do you guys even care, do you know what an encyclopedia is? Hasn’t the internet replaced them? I’m sorry, guys. This is going south, quickly.)

4) Football must’ve been a really big deal once

Okay, maybe this is my fault. Is it still a big deal? I know Friday Night Lights (RIP) is a big deal. But is high school still like this? We had football at my high school, but wow. Nothing like this. If football is still a big deal, replace “football” with “overalls” and then pretend I’m talking about the guy in the overalls. (YOU know the one.)

5) Paddling should’ve led to some major, major lawsuits

So this paddling tradition makes me think of two things:

1) The old guy from The Simpsons (“Talking out of turn? That’s a paddlin’!”)

2) The enormous lawsuit these jackasses would face if they tried this stuff today. I mean, IMAGINE you went to a school where you tried to ask your teacher to BE LET OUT EARLY (i.e. “Please help me – I am afraid of getting beaten by men who are obviously over-compensating for some sort of shortcomings and are calling it ‘tradition’. Please, please help me.”) and he said, “50 of you are leaving on a mission – 25 of you ain’t comin’ back”??!? Like, I am just saying that the following people should have been sued and/or charged and/or sent to prison:

a) Ben Affleck

b) Everyone else who paddled

c) The “25 of you ain’t comin’ back!” guy.

d) That coach who was really sexist and kept calling the babely dude main character a “girl”.

e) Matthew McConaughey.

6) That one teacher is so cool

You know the one: she pats Overalls on the head and dresses super-rad even for today. I’d like to think that she’d totally be our friend and watch movies with us. At least that’s what I’m telling myself upon my third piece of pizza.

7) Paddling is terrifying

Imagine leaving your last day of elementary school and KNOWING you’re going to be paddled by what, every senior? Is that the tradition? Who came up with that?! “You know what will make the freshman feel welcome? Beatings!” NO. You are doing it wrong, old white men who made the rules (I am assuming). I would totally move and/or be home-schooled or tell everyone that I was actually a ghost so they wouldn’t try to touch me and would actually be terrified of my mere presence. Boo.

8 ) Parker Posey is even more terrifying

Not in real life, guys, relax. She’s probably super lovely and great. And did you see You’ve Got Mail? She’s still kind of terrifying, but it’s You’ve Got Mail, so let’s all calm down for a second, we’re getting hysterical. But in this movie?! She is exactly the kind of girl I avoided on the bus home from school, and you know what? SHE IS SO REAL. She is exactly the nightmare high school girl we all knew and know and loved and hated and prayed she’d ignore us. The good news is that they all grow up to work at [insert the most mundane and boring job you can think of here]. The bad news is that they make phrases like “fry like bacon!” be actual things.

9) OH MY GOD SO MUCH SEXUAL HARRASMENT WHAT IS HAPPENING

Like, Overalls. Seriously. Maybe think about going on a retreat to find yourself because you obviously have some underlying issues that have never been dealt with for real. I wonder what he grew up to be. I wonder if he now coaches football at the exact same school or went on to fund an overalls company that went defunct because only Tommy Hilfiger could hawk those in 1998 and even then… let’s just … nope. Let’s forget it. But help us all, everyone, please.

10) Guy from Rent and 15-year-old Sabrina’s relationship is a little bit concerning

I mean, how old is he? 36? And she is what, 14? Why are we supporting his? Is it because he’s nice? He is, don’t get me wrong, but no good can come from this. Zero amounts of good. One millimeter of good, MAYBE. And that’s if I’m feeling generous, which I am not because I am hungry and also lazy, so that problem’s not about to be solved anytime soon. RENT!

11) Kevin (the house party guy) did a bang-up job trying to cover for the beer guy delivering beer

Okay, I don’t want to make any bold declarations or get sued for libel, but think of how smart and how smooth and how rich Kevin seems to be. Now think of how Kevin McAllister probably dealt with his two traumatizing Christmases in his youth. And now add a time machine. And now change the last name. I know. We’re thinking the same thing: Dazed and Confused is the real Home Alone 3.

12) The little boy with the long hair is not Joseph Gordon-Levitt

And everything sucks because of that.

13) That blonde-haired friend of his is the worst

Two words: sell. out. And if that’s one word, here is another one to go in front of it: maximum.

14) Not-Joseph-Gordon-Levitt is not the greatest actor in the world

I mean, he’s not bad. He’s not. Like, good luck to any of us with that paddling scene if we had to act it out. But the hair-behind-ears-ing! The look of boredom! The nonchalance! Okay fine, I get it. He’s doing his thing. But I just also kind of want to tell him that it’s okay to let go. It’s okay to get into it. You’re in a movie, kid! You’ve hit the big time! The world is your oyster! Your only job is to pretend you are interested in what is going on. That being said, he did an amazingly fantastic job of being the greatest bored teenager of all time.

15) “I thought you said you weren’t going to get mad?” – “I’m not mad.”

HA. I hear you, girlfriend of the Babely Lead Gentleman.

16) Matthew McConaughey is the only person who could’ve played Matthew McConaughey

And in no way, shape or form am I claiming that Matthew McConaughey is the guy that “gets older when they stay the same age”, but I am saying that a little part of me thinks that maybe this is Matthew McConaughey’s cinematic biography and we are all just watching what his life was like when he was a 20-something in the 1970s and maybe this isn’t even fiction? Maybe he was long-haired Mitch? This is getting too real.

17) “I wanna dance!”

DON’T WE ALL, ADAM GOLDBERG. ALL OF US. DON’T WE.

18) “Play it cool” is the worst advice ever given

Remember when Mitch is scared to go into the Emporium and the Babely Lead Gentleman says, “Just play it cool!” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? Have you ever tried to play it cool? I’m pretty sure playing it cool looks like laughing nervously but kind of crying and turning red and getting sweat stains and accidentally falling down when you’re just standing completely still. So imagine Ben Affleck confronting him. And then imagine Mitch peeing his pants. Because that is what “playing it cool” would actually be.

19) Driving around is exactly that fun

So how many of you guys are from a small town? ME TOO. (TWINSIES!) And let the record state that some of the greatest weekend nights consisted of driving aimlessly from one place to the next and listening to music really, really loudly. OF COURSE, that is only fun if you abide by the following rules:

a) You are not drunk and you are sober and you do not have any beer in your car and you haven’t been drinking at all.

b) You do not throw bowling balls at people’s windshields.

c) You are a good driver. (Be responsible, guys! Come on!)

d) You don’t destroy mailboxes if they belong to people with guns. (Or maybe ever. Probably not ever.)

20) Long-haired Mitch is really good at buying underage beer

And I mean really, really good. “Here’s some more money for your pocket.”

21) Those KISS dolls must’ve taken a really long time

Who made those? And can you picture ANY of those characters taking the time to make papier maché versions of two KISS members? Did they buy them, maybe? Either way, those KISS dolls represent at least one student who longs to be an artist and dreams of a day where they don’t have to give any cares about paddling or the Moontower. Maybe they also WANNA DANCE.

22) No, but what is up with the guy from Rent and the 15-year-old girl?

Why is nobody telling him that this is a bad idea? Where did her friends go? Remember when she walks up to him and says, “Does your offer from this afternoon still stand?” You know what offer that was? I don’t know exactly, but she answers “Whatever you want”. WHAT. She is 15! Or younger. Probably younger, right? And in like, six years that won’t matter AT ALL, but guess when it does matter. RIGHT NOW. “Hi, this is my 15-year-old girlfriend, everyone!” he would say. “That’s so great! How’s prison?” his friends would answer.

23) Leaving a high school sports team is not the end of the world

For maybe one to six minutes, think of all the people you know who do not play high school sports. I am willing to be that they are okay. Or maybe they’re not. I don’t know, I’m pretty wrapped up in watching Dazed and Confused and wearing my leggings under my pajama pants. But some of them probably decided to leave high school sports and things went okay. Or maybe they didn’t. Either way, Babely Lead Gentleman, RELAX. It’s going to be fine. You’re going to be okay. Approximately zero people are going to care if you’ve chosen to embark on the career of building KISS papier maché dolls instead of throwing footballs in the air. (I think my version of this movie is even better, by the way.)

24) That fight scene is so terrible

I love you, Adam Goldberg, but please never film a fight scene again because I think I heard you whimper or cry or scream or something, and it was just heartbreaking and not at all as inspirational as I would’ve liked it to be. BUT MAYBE THAT’S WHAT HIGH SCHOOL IS ABOUT. (Are any of you good at music? Can you play an inspiring instrumental theme right now because the last few paragraphs have gotten really deep?)

25) That Moontower party is for all of us

Well we all would’ve gone, and we’d all probably still go, and provided none of us dumped beers on that crazy angry man and/or gave Parker Posey a rage blackout, we probably would’ve had a pretty good time. I mean, the woods! And the Moontower! And watching the guy from Rent hit on that 15-year-old girl! Also, Mitch. He is all of us! We are all of him. I’m not even entirely sure what that means, but I have the biggest desire to watch the first season of 3rd Rock From the Sun now, I’ll tell you that much for free. Or maybe Inception.

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  1. That guy from RENT-his name is Anthony Rapp and he was also in Adventures in Babysitting. He played Daryl Coopersmith, Brad Anderson’s best friend and next door neighbor.

  2. That’s pretty much how I remember my graduation in ’76 and, yes, I dated Milla’s character… dazed but not confused.

  3. I love it!

  4. making me feel old…. I was working at a movie theater when this movie came out, so yes, I did see it in a theater, and it was AWSOME

  5. And Anthony Rapp, the dude from Rent, was playing one of the seniors. So this relationship is totally okay in the movie universe.

  6. Yup. Gonna watch Dazed and Confused now. Thanks for giving my Thursday meaning.

  7. This was so funny. Overalls, love it. They didn’t build the entire KISS dolls from scratch, they just painted on the faces of some statues they stole from the town. Much less involved.

  8. This is awesome! But one thing: it’s Adam Goldberg and Jason London.

    • Thank you! :) AND MAN ALIVE I TOTALLY CAUGHT THAT TOO LATE/JUST NOW. So as a disclaimer: Adam Goldberg and Jason London, everyone. I love you all.

      Anne T. Donahue | 12/29/2011 08:12 am