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American Graffiti


Is it me or is this film way overrated? It is a more or less enjoyable picture, okay, but it’s far from being a masterpiece. I’m pretty sure that what most like about it is the idea of it rather than the film by itself. The whole film is about 50s teenagers who cruise around in their big American cars while listening to Wolfman Jack’s rock’n'roll radio show. The film might represent accurately the reality of this era, but personally, I wasn’t struck by the film. Maybe you had to be there; that way, the film makes you nostalgic or something. But for a 90s guy like me, watching all this is not that exciting. The film follows different guys for a night. There’s Richard Dreyfuss as an innocent, idealistic kid who won a scholarship to go study in a prestigious college but is unsure if he really wants to leave his hometown. He’s probably the most interesting character. I like how he spends the night trying to reach a beautiful blonde in a Thunderbird who may or may not have told him “I love you”. He also hangs with a gang of bad boys and… that’s about it. That’s the problem with the film: it never really digs deeper than that.

But maybe that’s just the point; maybe it’s about showing how innocent and simple things used to be before the JFK assassination, the Vietnam war and the Watergate made us into cynics. Like there’s Ron Howard as another kid who’s leaving for college. He has a girlfriend, but he isn’t sure he loves her. He tells her they should try seeing other people while they’re apart. But through the night, he more or less realizes that why look for something else when you’re fine with what you’ve got now? This is the film’s take on love. Not very complex, but it kinda makes sense. It’s odd though that these guys don’t even know how lucky they are. According to movies at least, it seemed incredibly easy to get a chick back then. You stop at the milkshake parlor, pick up a nice looking girl, drive around and that’s it. You might go to the drive-in, to a dance at school or park by the river, but as long as you’ve got a car, you’re guaranteed to score. Even the school’s nerd gets himself a beautiful babe once he gets himself a car. The ultimate car guy has got to be Milner, who’ll race anyone who dares him. He spends most of the film with a 13 year old chick he picked up by mistake.

So that’s “American Graffiti”, not a bad film but not an exceptional one either. It’s modestly entertaining to watch, but I didn’t find it really involving, but like I said, that might be because George Lucas’ direction ain’t bad, but this if far from his visionary “Star Wars” series. The best thing about the flick has got to be the rock’n'roll classic tunes that play wall-to-wall through the film. This is one of the coolest soundtracks you could imagine, but that’s all it is: a soundtrack. Anyone can cram 50 songs in a film, that doesn’t make it a masterpiece. You might wanna check this film out on a rainy day, but the 50s period film you really need to see is the exhilarating “Grease”.