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#77 - American Graffiti

George Lucas directs this slice of nostalgia, made in 1973 but set at the end of summer in 1962. Four friends (Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith) spend their last night together in small town California before two of them head off to college.

Samantha had me looking forward to this one, but my overall reaction was that it was good, not great. I think that one's reaction to this movie has more to do with one's personality and behavior than other movies, and I'll explain why.

The movie does a marvelous job of painting a picture of youthful naivete and innocence, both in terms of the characters themselves, and of American culture in general before the '60s really took off. At the same time, the characters in the film are far from innocent in the conventional sense. They're troublemaking, they're pranksters, they're horny, they're hot rodders -- all in all, they're not people I would have identified with at all in high school. So while many people watched their antics and thought "Oh, to be young again," I was just thinking, "Yeah, high schoolers are high schoolers -- getting away with things I would never have dreamed of when I was that age."

But enough about me. The film is fun to watch. Lucas and his cast have set the scene to a tee -- everyone is utterly believable in their roles cruising the neon-lit streets. It's particularly fun watching then-nobodies like Dreyfuss and Harrison Ford (in a small role). Candy Clark is particularly great in an Oscar-nominated role as the slightly-ditzy beautiful blonde hanging out with the dork on a date that careens from ill-advised to outright disaster. The film does a good job of weaving together four different storylines and four different character development into a coherent whole. The music is outstanding -- dozens of number 1 hit tracks coming through the car radios that very effectively evoke the period. I can recognize all of this as being outstanding. It just didn't strike me as being personally affecting.

I would recommend the film. I enjoyed it, and you'll probably enjoy it more than I did.

(See this post if you're confused why I'm reviewing movies.)


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