While doing my daily browsing on ew.com, I made a very exciting discovery. Richard Linklater, auteur of the greatest high school movie ever made, “Dazed & Confused,” has a new movie coming out about college. More specifically, it’s about a group of college kids lost (“Dazed”) and mystified (“Confused”) during their first weekend of college in 1980.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t follow the characters of “Dazed & Confused” into their first days of college, but it will hopefully create a cast of characters who are just as memorable. Since this movie takes place in 1980, it is no doubt a nostalgia film. Nobody captures nostalgia better than Linklater. I was not alive in 1976, but “Dazed & Confused” made me feel like I was right there, and knew pretty much everything about the 70s. From the Aerosmith soundtrack to the hazing and the pot smoking; the audience understood what it was like to be a teen in 1976. It was about the pressure, but also about the good times. Times have changed, but teens today could still related to the teens of “Dazed & Confused.”
This is really why I’m excited to see what Linklater will bring to the college comedy. Over the past years, the genre has totally evaporated into brainless shlock. Every college comedy seems to show college as one giant party, and then of course the dean tries to ruin everything. Then, the kids bring the dean down and it’s happy times for all. “Animal House” started this and they did it just right. So many filmmakers have tried to imitate “Animal House”‘s style, but they all fail. Maybe it’s because no scene of a bunch of inexperienced kids throwing up after drinking for the first time could match the subtle comic brilliance of watching John Belushi devour a plate of jello in one bite.
But, I digress. The reason this movie will revive the college comedy is because it sounds like “Dazed & Confused” set on a university campus. And I mean that in the best possible way. While “Dazed & Confused” captured the life of a group of varied high schoolers over one night, Linklater’s new film will capture the life of college kids over just one weekend. The teens of “Dazed & Confused” found out that despite what social group they come from, none of them are too different. What better place could that lesson be taught then at a college on the very first weekend. This film will have depth and show that comedies can have depth. Overall, it’s those tiny connections between humans that can propel a comedy from funny to masterpiece. This typically is the essence of a Linklater film.
Now, the college comedy hasn’t totally died. Judd Apatow brought it back with touching humor and stark realism with his TV series “Undeclared.” Unfortunately, it was cancelled after one season. Maybe it is because people don’t like realism. They like ridiculous fantasy. But, I think this new movie will show that realism can be funny and entertaining, as well as enlightening.
Unfortunately, this movie, currently being called a “spiritual sequel” to “Dazed & Confused,” has yet to find a distributor. Studio executives I beg you, take a risk and invest in Linklater’s latest film.