Dazed and Confused is American Graffiti for the stoned - and for those who always thought themselves too hip, too frightfully informed for the likes of John Hughes and the white-bread adolescent angst of The Breakfast Club. Well, Hughes is - dirty word - commercial, isn't he? And constructed: his plots have pat resolutions? And Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused (right) is about, huh, like, man, reality . . .

Only Linklater's reality doesn't bite. It sucks: reality is smoking weed and waiting for life to happen in the Seventies though the Seventies are the Nineties, see, because the Seventies is the decade being recycled now. The Nineties teen needs to borrow his fun, only Dazed wants it both ways - if the Nineties are the Seventies, then the Seventies are also the Nineties, aimless and clueless. Degeneration X is so bummed out, it thinks all previous eras were equally comatose.

This, of course, is what is passing for true-to-life. The truth is that Dazed and Confused is as honest or as dishonest as anything Hughes ever did, but that it's constructed to look unconstructed, hopping as it does from one set of characters - geeks, dopers, jocks, foxes - to another. Yet no one complains that these teens are cliches. Why not? It may be as simple as the characters having long hair instead of short or wearing the right trainers or listening to music that's considered cool. Snobbery substitutes for critical perspective.

The trick works a treat. Linklater is even praised for amorality; amorality being (dazed and) confused with no viewpoint. By the end we're talking strictly squaresville: the nominal hero refuses to renounce his pals and sign the football team pledge. Andy Hardy would have applauded.

(Photograph omitted)

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