“American Graffiti” – Classic Film Reviews #1

Before George Lucas made the original “Star Wars,” he wrote and directed this 1973 classic based on his life. “American Graffiti” stars Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, and Charles Martin Smith, and takes place 1962. It follows many characters on their last night of the summer after their senior year. A ton of people are in this movie, but the main characters are Curt, Steve, John, Terry, and Laurie. The film is unique in that it consists of mainly dialogue and very few events happen. It isn’t exciting or raunchy like other coming-of-age stories; the characters just drive around and talk for two hours. This may sound boring, but the dialogue is hilarious and the characters are really relatable and likeable, so there are barely ever any dull moments in the movie. The reason why most of the characters are so relatable is that they feel like people who one would go to school with. Curt is the insecure guy, John is the popular “jock,” Steve is the overachiever, and so on.

Additionally, Lucas’ directing is brilliant. He places and moves the camera in a way that makes the viewer feel like they are in the car or on the streets alongside the characters. The film is truly immersive and engaging. There are many films where the setting is integral to the story, but there are very few where the setting is the narrative like this film. My only significant gripe with the movie is that it lacks any exposition at the beginning, meaning there is no description and/or introduction to the characters and the story, making it hard to understand. Besides that, this is a great film that I strongly recommend to anyone looking for a fun coming-of-age comedy or that is unfamiliar with George Lucas’ work outside of the “Star Wars” movies.

Grade: A-

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