A perfect version of what it's like to be a teenager in America, and probably just about everywhere else as well. The whole thing is absolutely wonderful.
Oh man, this is one of my all-time favorite films, it’s so great. Everything about it is basically perfect. The goofy acting, the incredible clothes and cars, the soundtrack, everything. It’s the best film I’ve ever seen about nothing, about a random day in people’s lives, young people specifically. I wasn’t alive in the 70’s, I’m not from Texas, but I have lived this day before. We all have.
As I said, this is a film about nothing. A slice-of-life type film. It takes place entirely in one day and night, specifically the last day of school in a small Texas town in 1976. Everyone is being inundated with bicentennial nonsense and the new freshman and seniors of this little town are out looking for something to do. With that basic premise the film creates a bunch of incredible characters and stories. There are fights, and hazing, and drinking, and drugs, and laughter, and boredom. All the things kids do when there’s nothing to do. And I don’t care where you grew up, there was never anything to do. It’s all captured so accurately here.
This film is supposedly based on the director, Richard Linklater’s, real experience growing up in the 70’s in Texas. And you can tell. The whole thing feels completely authentic to his childhood. No one could make a film like this, all atmosphere and scenery, without having lived it. The soundtrack is incredible, again I wasn’t alive then but this is what the 70’s sounds like to me. The acting is spotty in places, a lot of first time actors here, but it doesn’t matter at all. They are their characters, to the point where even actors who later became recognizable, this is Matthew McConaughey’s first film for example, are just people in the world we’re looking at. This is a film about feeling a time, rather than experiencing a specific story. The ensemble nature of the cast just adds to that.
And it’s that feeling that the film accomplishes so incredible well. I feel like I know these people, like I know what happened before this film started, and what’s going to happen after. Like I’ve lived through small-town life in the 70’s. That’s an incredible accomplishment. When this film came out it was marketed as a teen comedy, that’s why I originally saw it, when I was in high school. But it hit me so much harder because it wasn’t that at all, it was about growing up, and life. I watched it every day for two weeks after I first saw it, I couldn’t get enough. I’ve watched it many times since then and I still smile every time. What a great, great film.