“American Graffiti” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 32
“Is that you in that beautiful car? Geez, what a waste of machinery!”
Despite the entire original Star Wars trilogy being in my top 20, I for what ever reason never got around to watching American Graffiti.
I guess the hot rods/50s-60s/greasers/sock hop aesthetic never really appealed to me much as a character or story setting.
What I ended up getting out of it was a pretty well constructed coming-of-age tale, all told in a single evening (which I also appreciate), and despite some dodgy dialogue and acting (which seems to be a Lucas staple), an overall enjoyable movie.
Of all the characters, I think I liked Terry “Toad” the most. His earnestness, his desire to be cool, and his yearning to impress the girl was the heart of the movie.
You want to slap some sense into Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfuss’s characters – and perhaps that’s the point – but it makes me a frustrated viewer. One’s arc is to not be a jerk, the other’s is to escape being one.
I wasn’t blown away by the interweaving storylines or anything visually, but it’s a fine little movie. Costuming and cars are on-point, of course. Feels like a footnote in Lucas’s career, to be sure.
American Graffiti was at the time of this review at #282 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked #573 among the best films of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
American Graffiti vs. Licence to Kill
While I like all things Bond, and I like Dalton as Bond, he’s not my favorite, nor is Licence to Kill particularly standout. American Graffiti wins.
American Graffiti vs. The Rocketeer
With its classical heroics and damsel in distress, The Rocketeer gets my vote. (Dalton is better in that than he was as Bond, even.)
American Graffiti vs. Chicago
It won Best Picture. It’s actually, really that good. Chicago wins.
American Graffiti vs. Joy
A lot of people harp on David O. Russell as a director, but I really liked this story, and Lawrence’s performance. Joy takes it.
American Graffiti vs. The City of Lost Children
Highly stylized sci-fi fantasy is usually my wheelhouse, but it didn’t click well with me. Graffiti is the winner.
American Graffiti vs. I Am Legend
Despite the dodgy CG and missed opportunity of an ending, the isolation is strong, and the emotion is there. I’m inclined to think I still prefer it as the better film.
American Graffiti vs. The Girl Who Played With Fire
If it was Tattoo, it’d be no contest. The sequels delve into just slightly better than a TV movie quality. Graffiti wins.
American Graffiti vs. Star Trek: Into Darkness
I liked parts of Into Darkness, but it felt so overwrought with the Khan thing. Spock having a drawn-out fisticuffs fight scene wasn’t great, either. It was essentially a demo reel film for J.J. to make The Force Awakens. Graffiti takes it.
American Graffiti is now ranked #753 out of 1541 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
Next up is Summer Hours. In the meantime, check out the other films I’ve ranked during the challenge.