“Dazed and Confused” certainly has its moments, although the profundity of its reputation is a little mystifying. On the one hand, its aimlessness is appealing to fans of day-in-the-life cinema, and its use of classic rock songs establishes the movie’s tone extraordinarily well from scene to scene. It’s also improved by its charismatic cast, most of whom were making their film debuts here and went on to strong careers either as movie stars or dependable character actors. However, it’s hard to get away from the fact that none of the movie’s characters are particularly interesting or well-developed, and it doesn’t represent any perspectives other than a mild divide between jocks and nerds. Additionally, there’s a problem with Wiley Wiggins as Mitch, whose excretable performance consistently takes the viewer out of the experience. Add in a strange glorification and celebration of harassment abuse against young teenagers, and the whole thing becomes uncomfortable at times. Ultimately the movie itself is perfectly fine but like many of director Richard Linklater’s oeuvre, filmic intentions seem to count almost more than execution, and much of the movie’s charms depend on nostalgia (either for the 1970s themselves or for the 1990s, when the movie was released).
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)