Sunday, January 16, 2011

American Graffitti (#63 Greatest Movie) Review

This weekend Sarah and I watched American Graffitti, AFI's 63rd greatest movie of all time.  Produced by Francis Ford Coppola, co-written and directed by George Lucas, and staring big names like Ron Howard, Harrison Ford (one of his first), and Richard Dreyfus, we had high hopes.  However, we were sadly disappointed.
The whole movie takes place in about 15 hours of time, from evening to morning the next day.  It is set in the early 1960s with a group of kids in (or just out of) high school cruising the strip of their local town. 
I'm guessing this movie meant a lot more to people, for whom "cruising" was a major part of their childhood.  As I watched, I remembered vaguely some of my mom's stories for this sort of thing.  However, for Sarah and I the whole story seemed kind of slow and pointless. 
It's billed as a "coming of age story," but it didn't feel like much maturation actually happened.  The main characters exhibited a fair amount of angst and confusion, but the resolution was rather slim. 
Also there was this weird bit at the end, with text based follow-ups on the main characters in a "where are they now" format.  It gave the impression that this was a true story, but from what I can tell, Lucas just made this up from his own similar experiences.  It seemed out of sync and also pointless.
The final scene (before the weird text follow ups) was a fanciful but artful and slightly poignant wrap-up on the night.  As the white Thunderbird drove along the road, I wasn't sure if the message was that happiness is always just out of reach or that happiness is out there and worth pursuing.
Alas, sometimes even the "greatest" movies are duds for us.  I guess beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.  The Josh rating: a dismal 2 Js - JJ.
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