More American Graffiti tugs satisfyingly hard on many emotions – you can’t help get deeply invested in these characters as they launch their lives after high school (American Graffiti). You certainly have to watch American Graffiti first and you have to pay attention to the cameos at the end, which tell you the fate of the characters. With the characters clearly established from the first movie and their fate foretold in cameos, you’re all set to enjoy More American Graffiti which is uplifting, funny, heartwarming and heartbreaking.
It’s the mid-sixties – though the time doesn’t matter much. These same themes and slices of life could be told during any time period, which is what makes the stories so enduring. More American Graffiti is four stories. Each story is told in the course of one day, New Year’s Eve, but in different years, 1964, 1965, 1966, and 1967. The stories are progressively told in 10 to 15 minute episodes during the film. Still with me? It’s important to remember what the cameos said at the end of American Graffiti and note the year of each story in More American Graffiti – it wonderfully colors everything you see in an important way.
One is the story of a young California boy who goes to Viet-Nam to assert his manhood and come back a hero. Once there, he realises he’s a coward of sorts, willing to do just about anything to return home. Another is the story of the ‘cool car guy’ who’s taken his passion for cars in high school and is trying to win a legit drag race to make it as a professional driver. He’s also falling in love with an exchange student who can’t speak a word of English. The third story is a married couple struggling with their roles and responsibilities after having being forced into marriage after an unexpected high school pregnancy. And the fourth story is of a young woman who’s stripping to make money, hoping to marry her sweetheart to fulfill her dream of living happy ever after. Phew! Unfortunately, none of that does justice to the richness and depth of these stories. With each sequence, you’re taken deeper, making it impossible not to care about these characters. On another level, their experiences prompt a look at your own life, the decisions you’ve made and will make, the joys, and the downs. It all culminates in an overwhelming feeling of how wonderful it is to be alive because of the incredible moments we experience, regardless of our particular circumstance. You walk away with a new picture of your life. If you’ve ever needed to reconnect to the value of life, even when you’re struggling – which all the characters face – then this is the movie to watch.
There are a lot of good laughs and heartwarming scenes of people coming together, helping each other, and fighting for what they believe in. A great soundtrack throughout with hits from the sixties. Each of the four stories has their own filmmaking style, giving you a lot of fun eye-candy and variation. Though, something in the style of all four makes each one seem so real. There’s nothing fake or contrived. These are simple stories, well-told with solid characters and excellent casting and direction to make it all come alive. I’ve probably watched More American Graffiti about 20 times and having written this review and thought about it again, I’m looking forward to the next viewing! I highly recommend this movie with big sound – its produced by George Lucas.