Dazed and Confused

Movie review by
Elliot Panek, Common Sense Media
Dazed and Confused Movie Poster Image
Edgy coming-of-age tale has underage drinking and drug use.
  • R
  • 1993
  • 103 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 11 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A teacher reminds history students that on July 4 they will celebrate "a bunch of slave-owning aristocratic white males who didn't want to pay their taxes." People can act cruelly, and for the most part good people will stand by and do nothing to stop it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pink is brighter than the football teammates he hangs out with. When he's handed a bat to paddle a young victim's behind, he pretends to take a swing but doesn't hit the boy. Later he drives the boy home and gives him a sympathetic pep talk. Pink tries to fit in and have fun with with the football Neanderthals, supports them, but ultimately is not one of them. He refuses to sign a mandatory pledge imposed by the football coach to eschew alcohol, drugs, and illegal activities during the summer. Teachers, adults, and older kids do nothing to stop the violent hazing occurring right in front of them. A boy cheats on his girlfriend.

Violence

Incoming high school seniors preside over humiliating and violent community-sanctioned hazing of graduating middle schoolers who will be freshmen at the high school next year. Girls are taunted, then "tarred and feathered," but with mustard, ketchup, and flour. Senior boys chase and viciously paddle middle schoolers. Generally the cruelty and degradation is sanctioned by the locals, but two boys are saved by one's shotgun-wielding mother. Drinking and pot-smoking kids drive around town, heaving garbage cans at mailboxes and performing other acts of vandalism. A man whose mailbox was broken comes after them with a gun and shoots as they drive away. Two drunk teenagers throw punches at each other.

Sex

A boy refers to a girl with "big knockers." A boy comes on to his teacher, saying he's old enough to be legal. Football players discuss being on the team just "to get laid." Teens make out, clothed.

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "bitch" "Jesus," "p---y," "pansies," "homo," "knockers," "hell," "slut," "bang," and "shut up."

Consumerism

The soundtrack is as popular as the film.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens smoke cigarettes and marijuana and drink alcohol, some to inebriation. A high schooler swallows a pill, seemingly to get high.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know Dazed and Confused is a 1993 coming-of-age story by writer-director Richard Linklater (Slacker, Before Sunrise, and Boyhood) that is all about sex, drugs, rock-and-roll, powerlessness, and violence. On the last day of school, with the seeming approval of the entire adult community, incoming high school seniors sadistically haze next year's incoming freshman. When caught, the younger kids are subjected to painful and humiliating paddlings, and it's difficult to view the assailants as anything but vicious thugs learning to inure themselves to violence and nurturing a culture of self-perpetuating and continuing cruelty. While the film was hailed by some in the '90s as one of the best comedies of that decade, now the obliviousness of the violence feels a bit too reminiscent of recent, anger-fueled mass killings at airports, schools, and nightclubs to be funny. The setting is 1976 suburban Houston, Texas, when drinking at 18 was legal, but those legal drinkers drive cars and commit vandalism. Expect to see 14-year-olds drink, as well. Marijuana is bought, sold, and smoked, and boys talk about the availability of promiscuous girls. Teens kiss. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and "hell."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9 year old Written byellcar_fairjudge March 15, 2011

Not a "stoner comedy"; It's an accurate character study for the '70s

Dazed & Confused is an excellent character study to show viewers about how high school may have been in a small town in the mid-70's. Students watc... Continue reading
Parent Written byPlague September 3, 2010

Dazed and Confused

This funny classic is great for teens.
Teen, 17 years old Written byoctober1985 August 12, 2009
I love this movie! I first saw it when I was in the fourth grade. It's a great film that shows a bunch of teenagers in 1976. Great 1970's soundtrack,... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byasecoolish February 3, 2011
its great and its very funny let me mind you this is a stoner comedy so there's a lot of (non graphic) drug and alcohol use involving teens there's so... Continue reading

What's the story?

DAZED AND CONFUSED follows the activities of a group of Texas high schoolers on the last day of the school year as they cruise around town, drink, and fall in love. Mitch, the bullied freshman, takes revenge on the bully (Ben Affleck). The star quarterback, Randall "Pink" Floyd, is forced to choose between his allegiance to the team and his allegiance to his friends.

Is it any good?

Kids may be drawn to this movie, but be aware that there's lots of iffy, consequence-free behavior on display. A classic coming-of-age tale that paints an unapologetically rosy picture of high school in the 1970s, Dazed and Confused manages to thoroughly entertain without saying much besides, "Boy, those were the days." Though conflict arises when characters briefly contemplate what comes after the last day of school, the film does not let such serious moments complicate the good time they experience.

Dazed and Confused helped to kick off the nostalgic preoccupation with the 1970s that continues to plague pop culture. This is not to say that the film is an empty paean to the era of bell-bottoms and bongs. While Dazed and Confused is no doubt a '70s idyll, it owes its lasting popularity to spot-on depictions of timeless suburban rites of passage. The joy that Mitch experiences from transcending social barriers that seem etched in stone is contagious. With nearly every teenager on television caught up in a different brow-furrowing crisis each week, it's nice to be reminded that, on occasion, high school can be fun.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the deleterious effects of drug and alcohol use not depicted in the film. Where are Randall and Mitch likely to be five or 10 years after the close of this movie?

  • How often do high school kids party like this? What are the real-life consequences of this behavior?

  • What has changed since the 1970s in terms of the enforcement of drug laws and our knowledge of the long-term effects of drug and alcohol use?

Movie details

For kids who love comimg-of-age tales

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