I love some more Richard Linklater coming-of-age brilliance!!

From IMDb.com

From IMDb.com

The buzzed kids in Dazed in Confused did end up going to college.

Metaphorically, in the mind of terrific writer and director Richard Linklater, it turns out.

And so a quick 23 years after that breakthrough coming-of-age film that drew up the extremely realistic final May 1976 high school days of a group of Texas friends, all booze and pot and making out and awkwardness-cloaked-as-confidence included — and, oh, yeah, a kick-butt soundtrack, too — my dear wife Karen and I settled in with a sparse late Friday night crowd in Regal Cinemas’ mid-size theater at Syracuse mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Destiny USA.

On screen, it’s late August 1980, and writer-director Linklater has placed college freshman Jake pulling up to his Texas college in his trusty old Olds, cassette deck blasting. He’s going to be a pitcher on the school’s successful baseball team, living in one of the two houses the unnamed college has set aside for the players.

The 1 hour, 57 minutes mostly unwind in the three days that lead up to Jake’s first class as he meets the guys, they drink and smoke pot and size each other up. And all try to bed down the co-eds.

Blake Jenner, known from the late part of the run of TV hit Glee, is terrific as wide-eyed Jake, all-in for the fun and games but smart enough to watch and listen and reserve a piece of the action for his own needs.

The team is full of eccentrics who are terrific players, we hear often and see in the one extended scene, a “volunteer” players-only practice session that comes late in the movie, one in which Linklater uses wisely to allow the pecking order to finally shake out.

Boys will be boys. (From IMDB.com)

Boys will be boys. (From IMDB.com)

They’re all dream chasers, after all, but who many of them can really be pro players after this fantastic four years?

Glen Powell, as smooth-talking chameleon Lothario Finn, and J. Quinton Johnson, as the friendly and smart lone black player on the squad, turn in memorable performances among a batch of turns that all have the same nag. Gosh, they look older than college kids as they compete at ping-pong, knuckle-slapping, darts, life … Ah, well …

Zoey Deutch also is terrific as Beverly, the woman who catches Jake’s eye with a single line at the start of the film. She’s in his mind through the disco and country bar dances, and when he finally makes his move, it turns out right. Their chemistry is a sweet one on the screen as an athlete and performing arts major finding common ground and that new zizz of attraction. His teammates, of course, want to know the play-by-play.

Having graduated from the University of Maryland in 1979 and before that SUNY Morrisvlle in 1977 with a close group of friends at the campus newspapers and radio station, I related to the camaraderie and college humor. I stamped it as Linklater, a few years younger than I, back from his Boyhood journey and fame. A week ago, I heard a radio interview in which he told of his college baseball teammates watching a preview of the movie he’d staged for them, and how they’d hooted and hollered. I bought in.

Alas, my dear wife Karen found it somewhat male-centric.

And, oh, that kick-butt soundtrack, from disco to rap to country to punk, right down to the title and its punctuation thanks to Van Halen.

What did you find more enjoyable, your high school or college-aged years, and why? Which did you find more important, your high school or college-aged years, and why? Which Richard Linklater movie is your favorite, and why?

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24 thoughts on “I love some more Richard Linklater coming-of-age brilliance!!

  1. I loved Dazed & Confused and am looking forward to this sorta-sequel. But, here’s where I blow your mind, Mark. Dazed & Confused didn’t come out a baker’s dozen years ago … it came out in 1993. Which I think we could call a double-baker’s dozen! 🙂 I know … time does that flying thing, doesn’t it?

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  2. College was so much better than high school for me.
    I’m not a fan of Linklater movies, it seems. I had to look him up. On the list, I like Boyhood and Before Sunrise. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I’m sure the soundtrack is awesome 🙂

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  3. Sounds like more or less a winner here. My kids may even warm up to this one…well, my son at least. I definitely preferred my college years…although most of the time I spent in college, my head was somewhere else!

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  4. i loved dazed and confused, but also loved boyhood, though i was at a different stage of my life when i saw each. my college came later, and i was already a mother and working, so each held a very different memory for me.

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  5. College and university were way better for me than high school. That’s where I learnt who I was, both from the classes and the friendships. Boyhood is my favourite Linklatter because it’s a masterpiece. Just gets every moment exactly right.

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  6. High school was pretty tough for me. I was miserable and couldn’t wait to get out. Later realized I was the author of my own misery, but at the time I hated my school and blamed a lot on the mean kids (even in hindsight they were actually mean 🙂 ). When I got to Northwestern I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I loved the challenge and found myself for the first time ever feeling like I belonged. It was radical days then and it changed me from a conservative follower of everything Mom and Dad thought to a left-leaning independent thinker and altered the trajectory of my life. So definitely college more enjoyable and more important.
    I’ve kind of gotten out of the movie going habit since they’ve (a) gotten so expensive and (2) started turning them up so loud I feel shattered by the end — so as far as I’m aware (sometimes I’m a little oblivious about who directed) I haven’t seen a Linklater movie since Before Sunrise, which I loved. Thought Boyhood sounded awfully good so at some point I’ll see it.

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    • College was the time to expand into yourself, I think, Leigh. Still is, I’d hope, although kids these days seem to be doing that pretty early.

      Yes, do take the chance to see ‘Boyhood.’ It is that good.

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  7. Was wondering about this one. Saw Dazed and Confused (found it at a garage sale!) and couldn’t understand the hullaboo. Didn’t strike me as much more than a party movie. So I wouldn’t bother with this one, but was curious what you’d think as you liked the first one. My bet is that I’d be in your DWK’s camp.

    College over high school – looks like it’s unanimous.

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