Only now does it occur to me... GLORY DAZE––who knew? What I assumed was a Ben Affleck comedy in the vein of ENCINO MAN or BIO-DOME ended up being a quite thoughtful piece about the transition from college life to adulthood; it's a little more Baumbach's KICKING AND SCREAMING than ONE CRAZY SUMMER. Even more fascinating, this came from the mind of Rich Wilkes, the writer who most notably gave us AIRHEADS and xXx.
The story of a group of friends at a crossroads (Ben Affleck, Sam Rockwell, French Stewart, Vien Hong, and Vinnie DeRamus), GLORY DAZE may be cursed with an awful title, but it features many genuinely dramatic moments and a pervasive visual metaphor for post-college stasis: that of an errant dart tossed into a wall clock, obstructing the second hand, which ticks away uselessly. It's rather Gen-X and post-REALITY BITES in sensibility, but it always feels active and alive; its message is universal.
I also would go as far as to say that GLORY DAZE is second only to DAZED AND CONFUSED in terms of containing a Ben Affleck performance that does not actively annoy.
And with that haircut and goatee, that's saying a lot.
There are a lot of great bit parts, including Matthew McConaughey as "Rental Truck Guy," a crazed townie who may or may not be "Wooderson" from DAZED AND CONFUSED:
Right on, right on, right on...
Famed raconteur Spalding Gray (!) has a nice, nuanced bit as Affleck's dickish father:
RIP, Spalding––when the man was "on," he was on.
B-movie and Warhol legend Mary Woronov as the mother of Sam Rockwell's girlfriend during an awkward meet-and-greet at a graduation party:
I'm going to assume that her (unseen) husband is played by Paul Bartel.
John Rhys-Davies as a pompous professor (with a great deal of pathos) whose mentorship of French Stewart becomes a sympathetic look at how academia may not be for everyone:
Interesting to see Sallah caught up in the ivory tower––maybe Indiana Jones is rubbing off on him!
"Chenny" herself, Alyssa Milano, as a coed who doesn't really figure into the larger story; I think they just wanted a woman's face on the poster to disguise that this film is a full-on bro-fest (which is its only major weakness):
I could have done with a "Chenny goes to college" subplot where Schwarzenegger plays her overprotective father.
Cameos by Brendan Fraser and Leah Remini as a bus-riding couple who draw the ire of a depressed Ben (Sad)-fleck:
Maybe this movie has a little bit in common with ENCINO MAN.
And, finally, Matt Damon in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance as a dimwitted bro named "Pudwhacker":
Is this the impetus for the mentally disabled Matt Damon joke in TEAM AMERICA?
In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by this one; and in closing I'll recommend two additional "college comedies" that carry more resonance and sincerity than the genre usually affords: Andrew Fleming's THREESOME, which is 90s to the max, but a brilliantly executed character drama; and Richard Linklater's EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!, which was buried earlier this year as a lesser-stoner comedy, but is in fact an extraordinary, meaningful slice of life in the vein of BOYHOOD or DAZED AND CONFUSED.