Friday, September 2, 2016

Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll; 70's Style

This is my entry in the Back to School Blogathon hosted by Pop Culture Reverie

The last day of school.  Anything and everything can happen.  If you were alive in those post Nixon times, with a new president from Georgia on the horizon (even I, a simple high school freshman saw that then-President Ford wasn't going to be re-elected), and gas hovering around 60 cents a gallon.

And, if you believe what's going on in this movie, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE in high school lit up a doobie now and then.  (Note:  I don't have any clue whether this was true about my high school, but I attended a very small high school; my graduating class numbered only about 40, and there was only 120 in the entire 4 grades of high school when I graduated. And I didn't partake of any drugs, legal or illegal until after I turned the then legal age of 18.)

Dazed and Confused (1993)

Like my previous post for The Great Escape, I have decided that this review is better served by addressing each character in the movie, rather than an overall view of the plot.  Besides, there REALLY isn't much of a plot in this one in the first place.  It's just about the last day of school and the night AFTER the last day of school in the life of the students at (the fictional) Lee High School in Austin, Texas.  Most of the action centers on initiation rituals by the incoming seniors for the incoming freshmen (paddling for the boys, and a strange ritual that has to be seen to be believed for the girls), and a beer bust party in which the entire gang is involved in various unrelated antics.

Randall "Pink" Floyd: (Jason London)

Pink is the star football quarterback for the high school.  He is an independent soul who values his friendship more than fitting in with what is expected of him by his coaches and teachers.  In particular, his head coach, Coach Conrad (Terry Mross) who is extremely disapproving of his choices for friends, particularly those who are not his football teammates.  Pink is also the friendly "big brother" figure to incoming freshman Mitch Kramer.

Mitch Kramer:  (Wiley Wiggins)

Mitch is an incoming freshman, and, initially, the prime target for the initiation proceedings by the seniors, primarily because his older sister, Jodi, tries to protect him by asking that her friends go easy on him, which only makes them that much more determined to single him out.  After his initial paddling from a few of the seniors, Pink takes him under his wing and lets him hang out through the night.

Jodi Kramer: (Michelle Burke)

Jodi is Mitch's older sister, and one of the incoming female seniors.  She also takes one of the initiated freshmen under her wing, Sabrina, after the girls perform their own initiation ritual.  She is one of the more friendly and likable girls in the senior class.

Sabrina Davis: (Christin Hinojosa)

Sabrina is one of the incoming freshmen girls, and the only one on whom any focus is made after the initiation ritual.  The movie hints that she and Mitch may end up hooking up in the future, but that is open to speculation.

Danny Wooderson and Ron Slater: (Matthew McConaughey and Rory Cochrane)

Wooderson is a dropout who still likes hanging out with the high school kids, especially the girls...("That's what I like about high school girls.  I get older, they stay the same age"  A dirty old man in the making...)  Wooderson is the "brains" behind the keg party tha happens in the second half of the movie.

Slater is the ultimate dope head.  Personally, I'm thinking he probably lights up in the classroom, since he is always stoned.  Always trying to hook up with the doobie crowd, he is basically just a hanger-on.

Fred O'Bannion:  (Ben Affleck)

If there is a villain in the movie, it's O'Bannion.  Hostility is his middle name, and he is a sadistic jerk, taking great pleasure in the initiation procedures for the freshmen.  He is going to be a senior for the second time, since he failed, and some think he failed on purpose so he could be a sadist to freshmen two years in a row.

Mike Newhouse, Tony Olson and Cynthia Dunn:  (Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp and Marissa Ribisi)

These three are bosom companions, probably the most intellectual of the entire school.  They hang out with each other and have deep philosophical conversations, such as Mike's weird dream of having sex with a girl with the head of Abraham Lincoln.  Plus Mike has determined that he has changed his goal in life and wants to be a dancer.

Don Dawson and Benny O'Donnell:  (Sasha Jensen and Cole Hauser)

Dawson and O'Donnell are Pink's buddies from the football team.  They encourage him to sign the sobriety contract the coaches want him to sign, but Pink remains aloof.  They are also his partners in crime when hunting down incoming freshmen.

There are plenty of other characters in this movie, and, as well, more future stars who were still basic unknowns in this movie, including Milla Jovovich, Parker Posey, Joey Lauren Adams, Nicky Katt, and if you don't blink, Renee Zellweger.

So, do you wonder which character best represents your humble blogger?  I would have been an incoming freshman in 1976, so the obvious answer would be Mitch Kramer, but I think I identify most with Mike Newhouse.  Watch the movie and see how this character is played and you'll get a good idea of how my high school experience played out.  (But no, I never dreamed I had sex with a girl who looked like Abraham Lincoln...)

If you are going to drive home, folks, be sure to hide the empty beer cans, and for God's sake, air out the interior so it doesn't smell like  Cheech and Chong's apartment.



  1. This has to be one of my all time favorites. Even tho I did not hit high school until 1985 I can still relate to this movie. As a side note I live in a small town as well but I graduated with 380 kids so your town must be smaller. Have a great day!

    1. I was long gone from high school by 1985. I would have thought it was a different world by 5 years later. BTW, the town city limits in 1970 had the population of the town at 714. Wikipedia says it was 748, but I won't quibble over 30 people difference. By 1980, when I graduated it was just shy of 900. That's the entire town. It's grown up a bit since then, boasting over 2,000 these days, but its still small.

  2. Can you believe I have never seen this one? Must check it out next time it comes on...looks like a blast!

    1. Too bad we couldn't watch it together and I could explain it to you, youngster...:-D Just joking. Thanks, Chris.

  3. I nominated you for a blog award!

  4. Great review. This movie captured 1970's America in all of its tacky glory.

    1. And what, pray tell, was "tacky" about the 70's...? With the exception of pet rocks, I mean...:-D

  5. Haven't seen this, but just realizing this was directed and written by Richard Linklater makes me put it on my watch list.

    1. Linklater is one of a handful of directors I'd willingly work for free to be cast in one of their movies. Thanks for reading.


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