For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!
American Graffiti is set in a time when the biggest worry was to have the fastest car and the best looking girlfriend. It’s a simple, straightforward film with fantastic acting that manages to capture both a time and a generation.
The story follows a group of teens, all going through a typical situation. Curt (Richard Dreyfus) has an attitude about going to college, so when he glimpses a girl while cruising who is his idea of a ‘vision’ in a white thunderbird he will go to any length to find her again. Steve (Ron Howard) and Curt’s sister Laurie (Cindy Williams) are going out and since Steve is a year older and headed to college they are exploring their true feelings amid a break up and Steve’s inevitable departure to college. Meanwhile the local town rebel John (Paul Le Mat) has been cruising in anticipation of defending his street racing title, but he has been tricked into driving around with Carol (Mackenzie Phillips), a teen who is trying to act older and cooler than her age. Curt mets the DJ (Wolfman Jack) who keeps trying to offer him a popsicle. The DJ helps out Curt find the girl in the thunderbird, but he’s so consumed with the big picture (as are the other teens) that he makes too big of a deal of the situation.
Finally John finds Bob (Harrison Ford) and the two have their street car race. It’s a pretty awesome race, and afterward all of the characters find their resolutions. This film is a sleepy look at this generation who are in a time of relative innocence- not yet had they experienced the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of JFK, the escalation in Vietnam, the first man on the moon or Beatles Mania. They are just waiting.
Sometimes we just need to stop and enjoy a popsicle.
In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns: