The two great teen ensemble movies of the last 30 years, 1982's Fast Times at Ridgemont High and 1993's Dazed and Confused, share more than just ''Grand Hotel in a high school'' as a high concept: Both had eight or more bit players blossom into big names, so what seemed to first-time viewers like lucky typecasting (Matthew McConaughey had to be plucked off a hazy Texas street corner, right? Sean Penn was Spicoli!) now plays as a series of star turns.
Ridgemont and Dazed double-date in Universal's new Ultimate Party Collection but don't expect teen-pic parity. The former features commentary by director Amy Heckerling and writer Cameron Crowe, inevitably focused on casting coups, as well as a retrospective affording glimpses of how players with sub-Penn careers have aged. But let the repeat buyer beware: This is a duplicate with upgraded 5.1 audio of the 2000 special edition.
At least Ridgemont grads get a good rerun. Dazed fans will be confused about what happened to a promised commentary by director Richard Linklater; paltry extras don't extend much beyond 14 minutes of deleted scenes (with more of Ben Affleck and Parker Posey as senior sadists), a witless new faux anti-pot short put together by the disc's producers, and a Vans ad. In a personal note spread across the Internet since appearing on a blog by actor Wiley Wiggins who calls this the ''Ultimate Insult Edition'' Linklater laments the studio's ''continuing lameness toward this title.... I feel like I'm in an 11-year echo chamber with these idiots.'' He tells Wiggins he turned down Universal's commentary request after it spurned his attempts at including a behind-the-scenes doc and 10-year-reunion footage, ''because, after all these years, they're rushing the title out to make some sort of deadline.''
Linklater and Wiggins, hoping for an eventual Criterion edition, decline to comment further. Universal Insists ''we have received positive response'' to the DVD's ''substantial bonus features.''
Despondent Daze-ees may have a different message for whomever planned this ''Party'': Lay off the bong!