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Richard Linklater taking 'Dazed and Confused' to college

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Sixteen years after Dazed and Confused put Matthew McConaughey on the map as the stoner-sage David Wooderson and became the gold standard of high school nostalgia comedies, writer-director Richard Linklater has written a “spiritual sequel.” The story follows a group of lost boys and girls during their first weekend of college in 1980. The untitled project isn’t literally spiritual or a sequel, strictly speaking — sadly, none of the characters from the first movie will be featured in this one. But, like Dazed, it attempts to capture an iconic and infinitely confusing moment in a person’s life by following an ensemble of different characters through a short period of time. Much of the action takes place among the members of a college baseball team.

And EW has learned that Linklater has completed the script and has been spending the past few months trying to drum up funding for the project. It says a lot about the state of indie film and these tough economic times that the auteur behind such hits as School of Rock and critically praised masterpieces like Before Sunset would have trouble finding financiers to back a commercial-sounding comedy about college students. Indeed, Linklater sounded pretty mystified by how much the business has changed when he spoke to EW about the project last September. “It’s tough, man,” said Linklater, whose most recent film, Me and Orson Welles, has yet to find a distributor. “Unless it’s a tentpole, sequel, remake, or over-the-top comedy, that’s all the studios are even doing. They’ve kind of admitted they’re not in the business of doing anything else. The slightest level of irony or intelligence and, boom, you’re out of the league, you’re done.”