Bizarro Masterpiece Theatre: Remember the Daze

Not Derivative At All.

Movie: Remember the Daze (2007)

Director: Jess Manafort

Starring: Amber Heard, Chris Marquette, Lyndsy Fonseca

Written by: Jess Manafort

It appears that the 90s are officially fair game for the nostalgia industry.  Remember the Daze is entirely summed up in its name.  Though I’m willing to blame the film studio for the naming, this is little more than an unofficial sequel to Dazed and Confused, a film which told the story of a town of teenagers (mostly incoming seniors) on the last day of school in 1976.  This retelling does little more than wind the clock forward to the last day of school in 1999 and removes the freshman abuse, sweet hairstyles, and Ben Affleck’s greatest role ever.

Furthermore, Dazed and Confused isn’t the only film absorbed by this upstart.  It’s very appropriate that Remember the Daze was originally titled The Beautiful Ordinary, because this film also seems to aspire to be American Beauty. If there’s a reason why this film isn’t drowning in the throwback tunes that plague such nostalgia flicks (though lameass 90s radio rock does get some face time), it’s because the filmmakers elected to make the score wistful, attempting to drive home the idea that these are the best of times and every moment toward adulthood is a moment lost.  So when the kids aren’t running around getting wasted, they’re softly pondering the future.  All the while, a silent (and obviously blessed) teen photographs the day’s events, capturing this one perfect moment in time.

Most of the kids who populate this film are likeable enough, though only a few really stand out.  On the one hand, the spastic blue-haired punk, the quixotic older drug dealer, and the rap star with a piss-wasted alter ego provide the easy comedy.  Less blatant are the two girls who spend the evening babysitting while on mushrooms, which leads to some amusing quirk.  On the serious side lurks a lesbian couple divided on whether to come out of the closet, which is as close as this movie comes to obtaining gravity.

One strange side effect of this film’s clash of styles is that there are many moments in the film in which it seems as though something disastrous is about to happen.  Yet the film swerves away from calamity every time.  A car accident is averted, domestic abuse is hinted at but never shown, and a possible heart attack is laughed off.  The film plays at darkness, but when asked to choose between goofball antics and melodrama it almost always takes the safe route.

Maybe every decade deserves its own Dazed and Confused, its own captured moment of ended youth and disillusionment.  All the same, Remember the Daze is a lesser adaptation.

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