This is my first time writing about a screenplay… Maybe because it’s the first time I had the chance to read one before seeing the movie.
It’s the story of Pat, a 17 year old from Wadsworth, Illinois, Population 750, at the edge of nowhere, U.S.A. It all takes place on the titular date, one week away from graduation, and the opening day of a little space opera called “Star Wars”. This means a lot to Pat, as he’s a total movie geek who’s not only into the magazines and the toys, but who’s been making home-made movies since he was a kid, trying to emulate “Planet of the Apes”, “2001” and other movies which blew his mind. He’s a “moonwatcher”, a dreamer, just waiting to go out to California and make his dreams a reality… He’s pretty driven already, but somehow he feels this “Star Wars” movie would fire him up even more, he just knows it!
Yet getting to see it will be harder than he thinks, as his whole world seems to be determined to stop him from getting to the Genesee theatre, be it Bill, his flaky best friend and his ever unreliable ride, Linda, his supposed-girlfriend, his boss at the amusement park or the assorted freaks and geeks and jocks and cheerleaders at school who can’t seem to understand his enthusiasm for this stupid little sci-fi flick…
5-25-77 was written by Patrick Read Johnson, who’s pretty much his protagonist. “Most of this is true,” states the first page, “the rest is even truer.” However accurate this is, what’s clear is that the script does feel true, “lived in”. The period is very detailed, and the characters are well rounded out. And then you’ve got Pat, a character many will relate to. Well, I certainly did! I was making clumsy little movies with my dad’s camera in high school, and movies grew more important to my life every day. To me, “Star Wars” wasn’t that much of an influence, maybe because I’m too young and only caught on to the first (technically second) trilogy on TV, but I could switch it around to “Pulp Fiction” and this would be a good approximation of my teenage years. Pat might have been making little space movies with models, I was making low-rent Tarantino flicks with toy guns. All the same, what matters is the love of movies, and that dream of making them.
Reading Johnson’s script made me a bit nostalgic. You see, I eventually took college film classes, and made one or two shorts I’m pretty proud of, but besides that I’ve pretty much put the Hollywood dream on the back burner. I guess spending all those hours doing this website proves I’m still enthusiastic about cinema, but in the end I’m only writing about the work of others… so far! Hence, I’ve got to admire how Johnson made it happen, against all odds. Some might argue that directing movies like “Baby’s Day Out” or “Angus” doesn’t qualify as making it, but not everyone is like Orson Welles and makes a “Citizen Kane” right out of the gate. Yet with “5-25-77”, Johnson has something special in his hands. Done right, this could be better than Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous”, a movie somehow similar in tone: hilarious at times, touching at others, always sincere and heartfelt. I’m certainly looking forward to this one, and you should too.
“They’re not just movies. They’re dreams! Made by people who still have dreams– for people who still need them!”