Thursday, September 4, 2014
Retro Review: American Graffiti (1973)
'American Graffiti' Sprays Such Colorful Paint
Whenever I go to karaoke, the typical older crowd tends to sing songs from an older era. Usually they sing songs from this film's soundtrack. When writing this review, it got me thinking about how this film demonstrates the era this film is set in and how it carries over the generations that would follow. However, American Graffiti does it in such a spontaneous and less tragic way.
American Graffiti follows the stories of different former high school buddies: Curt (Richard Dreyfuss), Steve (Ron Howard) and his girlfriend Laurie (Cindy Williams), Toad (Charles Martin Smith), and John (Paul Le Mat), on their final night of summer. Curt and Steve are set to leave for college but Curt finds himself unsure of whether or not to stay home. But while Curt, Steve, and Laurie go to a back to school hop at their old school, Toad and John decide to cruise and a chain of events then begin to occur.
The thing that I loved the most about this film is just the simplicity of it. The film is literally a loose narrative about teenagers transitioning into adulthood yet I was completely hooked. It was so fascinating watching these characters go through arcs and go through the motions. This film even has what many coming-of-age films should have: Characters that the viewer can identify with. You have Curt, the college-bound student unsure of whether he wants to continue. Yet you also have Steve and Laurie, two lovebirds that find out how hard love is. Plus, you have Toad, the timid student that slowly comes out of his shell. The ones I felt the most connected with are Curt and Toad since there was one point where I was unsure of whether I wanted to continue my college education and I was an outsider in high school that slowly became more social. If anybody wants to create a coming of age story, then I would watch this film and take notes.
Another thing I really liked was the soundtrack. One reason is that a bunch of the songs that are put in I tend to hear sung by other people at karaoke. But now that I think about it, since the songs are from the late 50's and early 60's and the film was made in the 70's, the use of older music captures the feeling of holding on to that generation.
The film even takes us back to a time with carhops delivering at drive-in restaurants, back to school hops, and cruising. The way I see it, the film being set in that time period is a demonstration of being stuck in the past and having that time period having a great influence over us as the years will pass. It's kind of like the crowd of people at karaoke that sing older songs from their generation.
Overall, American Graffiti is a well-orchestrated coming-of-age story that is such an amazing throwback to a simpler era. Not only that, but it will satisfy those that are suckers for nostalgia, like myself. It is a rare gem that has a loose narrative yet still glues you in and it was done almost to perfection.
Would I Recommend It?:
ABSOLUTELY. This is a must for everybody: those that love to analyze film, those that want to write movies, and people who love movies. Everybody see this. It is a must!