Yup, that’s right! This month’s theme is (loosely), teen films. Remember the Daze is a special one because it’s not from the 90s, where teen films largely featured actors whose careers (unbeknownst to them) were at their peaks. This film features a cast who didn’t just experience some seriously major glow-ups proceeding the film, but have gone on to have moderately successful careers as well. Part of the reason for this, as well as why I like this movie so much, is that it’s an indie flick, not a blockbuster, and as such, writer/director Manafort went the “pretty with substance” route with casting and crafted a film that was surprisingly (albeit briefly) poignant.
Remember the Daze, though not created in the 90s, is set in the 90s, and centers the friendships of several young women who are best friends, as well as the auxiliary relationships in their lives. The year is 1999, it’s the last day of school, and they’re are on the cusp of both adulthood, and the new millennium. Julia (Amber Heard) is constantly fighting with her aimless boyfriend, Tori (Leighton Meester) wants to be responsible without letting her youth slip away from her, Kiki (Caroline Dollar) is sick of being used by her boyfriend, Dawn (Lyndsy Fonseca) is trying to pull the frightened Brianne (Melonie Diaz) out of the closet, Holly (Alexa Vega) is a sophomore who’s trying to grow up too fast, and Thomas (Charles Chen), simply wants to capture every moment on film. There is a frantic, desperate, consistent energy in the air to have as much fun as they can, to consume “the moment” before it escapes them.
Much like Empire Records, Remember the Daze was enjoyable enough, but failed to capitalize on so many opportunities to be great, and is a film which I enjoy for purely nostalgic reasons. A group of bored suburban teens who are stuck between Generation X and Millennials is great content in and of itself, but (again, like Empire Records), the cast is simply too large and thus we never get too attached to any one person’s story. Some characters, like the aforementioned Thomas, are relegated to an afterthought, while others, like Biz (Wesley Jonathan) and and Dylan (Khleo Thomas), are reduced to either slap-stick caricatures or dangerous stereotypes.
Despite this, something about being a woman who turned 15 in the year 2000, and being part of yet another generation (Millennials), who are also in-between has always drawn me to this film, and when I watch it, I focus on one of the characters and imagine a whole new life for them, a whole new ending or beginning. Remember the Daze is so very far from perfection, and like a narcissistic ex, you know that it really isn’t worth the time to explore it again, but can’t help thinking that things will be different if you watch it just “one more time”. I give this one 3 stars.