Dazed and Confused is set in a Texas town on May 28, 1976, the last day of school. It is a tradition in this suburban high school for seniors to submit freshmen to hazing rites. Girls have goo poured over them, and some must propose to older boys on their hands and knees. Boys are tracked down and severely paddled.

Dazed and Confused is written and directed by Richard Linklater who was responsible for the independent film Slacker. The approach in both movies is to follow a large crosscut of characters. Here we are introduced to jocks, nerds, and stoners. The central character is "Pink," the star quarterback of the football team. He's miffed because the coach has decided that all players must sign a pledge not to use alcohol or drugs. Pink feels this order violates his freedom.

Partly to pull himself out of his bad mood, he chooses Mitch, an eighth grader, to join his inner circle of buddies for the festivities. In order to prove himself to the older boys, Mitch has to purchase a six-pack of beer and smash mailboxes.

Theology professor and cultural commentator Tom Driver has written that a culture is in trouble when initiation rites for youth are absent or trivialized. To lose ritual as a meaning maker and as a community builder is to lose the way into the future.

But the hazing rituals in this film are stupid and humiliating. Once the boys and girls pass through these meaningless experiences, there is no reward. A few are allowed to join the older youth for the evening's celebration — in this case, a beer bash in the woods. During this free-for-all happening, everyone pursues the holy grail of sex, thrills, or the high that comes from drugs or booze.

Dazed and Confused (the title says it all) shows the aimlessness and amorality of youth who don't have a clue to the rituals that could give their restless souls strength and nourishment.