Sibling Revivalry is a recurring column where Katie Calautti introduces a classic film to her younger sister, who doesn't watch movies.
My sister and I had wildly different high school experiences. I was the bookish rebel who didn't subscribe to adolescent social niceties, and she -- two years my junior -- was surrounded by a clique of friends at all times, went to every school dance, and partied on weekends. It goes without saying that we weren't close at the time -- I think it killed my sister just to be seen with me by our parents in the privacy of our own home.
Which could possibly account for why her life back then remained a mystery to me -- until we watched Richard Linklater's "Dazed and Confused" together for the latest installation of Sibling Revivalry. Something about the subject matter (see: wild, stunningly accurate high school parties) broke open the floodgates and I learned way, way more than I ever expected to know about my little sister's mysterious 17-year-old ways.
In celebration of the film's 20-year anniversary this month, here is some fairly scandalous knowledge dropped by my sister after her first viewing of "Dazed and Confused."
The Film Stars Matthew McConaughey... as Matthew McConaughey
My sister had heard the famous Wooderson utterance "Alright, alright, alright" before thanks to McConaughey's use of it as a throwback in "Magic Mike." She claimed that it was burned into her brain because, "I'll remember anything if it's paired with turbo thrusting!" She also saw plenty of similarities in the actor's early star-making role. "He's just Matthew McConaughey to me, you know?" she said. "He's just always good! McConaughey, clearly from the beginning, has always played a character who's insanely cocky and comfortable in his skin, and that's endearing. I think that's why we all like him so much." When I told her my theory that McConaughey's "Magic Mike" character is actually just a future version of Wooderson, she agreed, then doled out some advice for the star: "He was so great in 'Magic Mike' and I know people wanted him to get an Oscar nomination for that, but maybe he should try playing an awkward character next. Maybe that's when he'll get his Oscar." Are you listening, Matthew?
Parker Posey Is Her Spirit Animal
"My group of friends was pretty nice, I just think I generally wasn't a very nice person," said my sister. Posey's character was her favorite female -- there was much maniacal laughter happening during any scene featuring the indie darling. At one point, during a particularly harsh Posey hazing rant, she said, "Why does this seem so familiar?" Then she slapped her forehead and said, "Oh, this is like me in my job as a manager now! I manage freshman and I rip them a new one every single day and they hate me for it. The only difference is, after I put them through hell they don't get inducted into some special friendship with me."
No Batfleck-lash, Here!
My sister thought Ben Affleck's early role as paddle-wielding bully Fred O'Bannion was pretty crazy, but she praised his "Kennedy hair." When I mentioned that he's about to step into the infamous black bat suit, she exclaimed, "Nice! I'm into it!" Take that, fanboys!
The Girl Hazing: Tolerable. Boy Hazing: Unnecessary
While she thought the ketchup and mustard and car wash scenarios with the girls were "hilarious," my sister found the boys' beatings to be "arbitrary." "They attacked people who didn't opt in for that, whereas the females were saying, 'If you want to be part of my club, let me know and I'm going to put you through some shit,'" she said. "The boys attacked the people who couldn't defend themselves. Just like men: they had no strategy and it was arbitrary and ridiculous. Whereas women are going to approach something a little more strategically."
The Movie Isn't That Realistic -- Except for the Party Scenes
Despite the fact that Linklater was slapped with lawsuits for borrowing likenesses and other similarities from his youth in Texas, my sister didn't find this film as a whole to be incredibly realistic to her high school scenario. "But I was never a teenager in Texas in the '70s, so what do I know?" she said.
As far as the party scenes go, though, they were, "Pretty realistic in that some sh*t hits the fan or something goes wrong or something is stupid," she said. "Just like the beer gets delivered too early, the parents find out and they don't leave after all. Do you know how many times that happened for my friends in high school? All the time!"And apparently my sister is no stranger to the bust-ups, either. She attended parties that were broken up by cops. "I remember running in shoes I could barely even walk in, and I was trying to go over a gate and I was not physically fit enough to do it," she said. "And one of my friends was too overweight to scale the gate and it was just like, 'Man down!' and we had to bail on him!" Fodder for a "Dazed and Confused" sequel, perhaps?
The Big Reveal
While discussing the "Dazed and Confused" party atmospheres, my sister dropped a huge bomb on me and divulged something I'd never previously known: she threw a raging party at our house when our parents took me to college. "All I wanted was for our parents to move you out and leave me in the house alone. It was like my moment of honor -- my moment of being cool. It was amazing!" Shocked, I naively wondered how she procured booze. And she launched into this insane story (listen up, Hollywood producers: this is screenplay gold!).
"I don't remember. I think the guys were older," she said, then laughed. "Well, of course the guys were older! So the guys brought booze, we had food. But then the best part about it was the next morning -- it was me and a bunch of girls left over, and so I decided that we needed to get something to eat, and there was nothing in the house. I had my license but I only ever knew how to drive an automatic car. And so mom and dad took the automatic down to move you in, and dad leaves me with his standard car and makes arrangements for me to get rides where I need to be for the few days they're away. I mean, it went without saying that I was not touching his car. But of course, I was like, 'We need food -- I got this!' I didn't even know what a clutch was! Never in my life have I driven a standard car and I'm loading all these girls in to go get bagels. So we go around the neighborhood cul-de-sac to practice first before I get on the highway. If you've never driven a standard car before, on flat land it's not that difficult -- the difficulty comes in when you hit the hills. So then I'm on the highway rolling backwards. I'm screaming, my friends are screaming. I'm yelling, 'Shut up, I have to concentrate!' and they're like, 'Let me out, we're gonna die!' Dad's never been so angry at me as he was when he figured out I did that. I think I was grounded for like a month."
EARLIER: 'The Princess Bride' Is Too Long, and Other Movie Virgin Observations