Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1993. Gramercy Pictures, , Detour Filmproduction. Screenplay by Richard Linklater. Cinematography by Lee Daniel. Produced by Sean Daniel, James Jacks, Richard Linklater. Production Design by John Frick. Costume Design by Katherine Dover. Film Editing by Sandra Adair.
Richard Linklater followed his breakout success Slacker with another look at a variety of characters, this time a group of teenagers on the last day of school in Austin, Texas in 1976. There are initiation rituals to be survived by the freshmen, there are mean seniors running around looking for junior high students to paddle, there are preparations for a party and a few trips to the drive-in chicken joint. The most central of these characters are Jason London as a graduate who is having difficulty deciding on his devotion to his school football team, and Wiley Wiggins as a junior high student whose experience on this one night will provide him with enough maturity to enter high school a confident man. Linklater does a magnificent job of riding the line between meaningful and carefree, his characters all charismatic but he does not overplay any moments of introspection or fear, instead maintaining a light tone that has moments of poignancy but is never overbearing or pretentious. That said, the hijinks these kids get up are not youth exploitation either, but rather the details of a film that takes you back to another era and easily reminds one of being that age. Parker Posey is terrific as a senior whose mouth shoots daggers, while Matthew McConaughey makes a hysterically funny film debut as the older working man who just loves hitting on those young high school girls.