Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: Dazed and Confused

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, May 26, 1999

The movie that everyone will be toking about!

Special features

Cast Information2
Production Notes2

This movie is an incredible tale of sound and fury signifying high school. Linklater has crafted a beautiful story of a bunch of high schools students in Texas on the last day of school in 1976. There is no plot to get in the way of characterization. The soundtrack consists of seventies songs chosen specifically scene by scene for maximum impact. If you were ever in high school, you should see this movie for nostalgia reasons; if not, you should see it as an education. Slow ride, baby. Watch it in English or French, or with English or Spanish subtitles.

RecommendationPurchase Now!
DirectorRichard Linklater
WriterRichard Linklater
Movie Rating9
Transfer Quality8
Overall Rating7
  • Letterbox

Dazed and Confused has been compared often to American Graffitti. Both are movies that take place at the beginning of summer; both simply follow the characters as they get drunk and drive around. Linklater attempted to keep Dazed and Confused more “pure” by using Juniors becoming Seniors: there is no “what are we going to do now that we’ve graduated” subplot in Dazed and Confused. The focus is simply on the lives of these students and the choices of actors, scenes, and dialogue hit 1976 like a bullseye.

The choice of music is brilliant. The songs buttress the scenes and lift them. The part in the movie where the Wooderson, Mitch, and Pink (the three fates in male garb) enter the pool hall to the tune of “Hurricane” is the kind of scene that can change lives. A perfect blending of music and cinema.

The only things detracting from the DVD are the quality of the extras. Possibly due to Linklater’s poor relationship with Universal, the production notes and the cast biographies are simply short text notes, saying very little. You’ll find much more interesting information on the web sites listed below. And, instead of anamorphic widescreen, it is simply letterbox. But the movie itself makes up for these technical shortcomings.

This movie is so on target for the mid seventies. It takes place in 1976 and has all the bell bottoms, jeans, polyester, and bongs you can want. The opening scene involving the end of lunch hour, as all the students return to classes, is so incredibly seventies you’ll think they filmed it with a time machine. Another scene (or set of scenes) that still gets me every time I watch the movie is when Mitch (who has just become a high school freshman) asks the new senior Randall “Pink” Floyd if it is “okay” for him to go along drinking with the seniors. Every time I see it I still think that he’s asking if its okay to be drinking, and of course Pink’s response catches me off guard: the drinking isn’t in question, it’s whether or not he’ll still get hazed. Hell, I remember even as late as 1982 sending my young brother—high school sophomore?—out to the liquor store to get me and my friends hard alcohol! Illegal as hell, but back then no one seemed to care. (In retrospect, I don’t even remember if he was old enough to drive…)

I first watched this movie by renting it from NetFlix. In the one week that I had it, I must have watched it four or five times through, and when I had to return it I went and purchased it right off. This is an incredibly watchable movie, and the soundtrack is brilliant as well; I will often put the DVD into the drive and listen to just the soundtrack while working in the kitchen (although I do have a view of the television from the kitchen, and it doesn’t hurt to steal a glance or two while washing dishes and making dinner).

Note that this is a review of the older DVD, not the newer one. The newer one doesn’t look much like it is worth buying if you already have the old one, but should include everything the older one has if you don’t have the older one. There’s also a Criterion version, and I strongly recommend it.

Recommendation: Purchase Now!

DirectorRichard Linklater
WriterRichard Linklater
ActorWiley Wiggins
Spoken languagesEnglish, French
SubtitlesEnglish, Spanish
Special FeaturesCast Information, Production Notes
More links

If you enjoyed Dazed and Confused…

For more about Criterion, you might also be interested in Carnival of Souls and The Seven Samurai.

For more about drug, you might also be interested in Altered States, Animal House, Detroit Rock City, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Heavy Metal, and Yellow Submarine.

For more about life, you might also be interested in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Don’t be afraid of your Blue Period.