A group of teenagers in California are spending the last night after high school graduation doing various things before, they go on to pursue the next part of their lives.
Director: George Lucas
Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Harrison Ford
MPAA Rating: PG for language
Runtime: 1hr 52min
Fun Fact: George Lucas missed his high school reunion due to filming this movie.
Remember when you and your friends got your driver’s license and your first car? One of the things that my friends and I would do on a Friday night in high school was drive around town just for the heck of it. We would go out to get food and hit up local entertainment like a movie or the bowling alley and blow off steam from the school week and head into the weekend without worry. Once graduation happened it was that time where you spent that final summer not having a care in the world before you entered a whole new journey in life where we all had to figure out what we wanted to do.
American Graffiti is a look into life in the early 1960’s in Modesto California. The film follows four friends that spend the last night of summer together on different adventures. We follow each of the four characters on their separate journeys through the night and how they intertwine with each other. Director Geroge Lucas gives us authentic characters and how they are coming of age and how change can be hard. With effective use of dialogue, we get to know these people and we also want to know more about them. There isn’t one true main character, and we get equal focus on all of them. We see great progression from start to finish and it is all interesting. These conversations we see are the best parts of the film and it leads to another important part. That part is that its relatable for everyone. We have all been in this position in our lives where we have come to age and how we had to accept change and move on from what we had known. There wasn’t a character that I didn’t like and was invested in everything they had going on.
This leads to the cast being on their A-game. The chemistry between Paul Le Mat and Mackenzie Phillips is great. They have quite a bit of scenes together and we see their characterizations progress nicely. Richard Dreyfuss delivers a solid performance as he goes on many adventures throughout the night. While we all mostly know Ron Howard for his directing career, he was a decent actor, and this is one of his more memorable performances. Harrison Ford has a smaller role in this film, but he pulled off his character with just the right amount of arrogance. The casting was done right, and the performers were put into the right roles.
Another thing that makes American Graffiti enjoyable is the technical aspects of it and the look. Most of the film we see the characters in classic cars driving around. These cars look amazing and some of the most memorable parts of the film are the characters just driving around. The cinematography is top notch with these scenes because most of the film is in the cars. We focused camera work on the cars and even the conversations between the characters in the cars. The biggest selling point is the music that accompanies the film. We get many classic early rock n roll hits and well filmed high school dance concert of these songs. I have this soundtrack on vinyl and I’m a fan of the era of music. The songs are inserted into the right parts of the film as well.
Overall, American Graffiti is a film that we can all relate to. We all have been at that point in our lives where we had to accept change even if we were not ready for it or didn’t want it. We get relatable characters, and you will want to get to know them more. While it is a relatable film it is also a technically well-made film that also resembles a period piece that flows well. We go down Geroge Lucas’ memory lane of nostalgia and how he grew up. Another interesting fact is that Francis Ford Coppola was a producer on this film. That right there for the time was a dream team between Lucas and Ford Coppola. This was also the film that gave George Lucas the opportunity to create a little thing called Star Wars. I would highly recommend you check I out because you might relate to it in some way.