More American Graffiti (1979)
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Also liked the cameo by Falfa, Harrison Ford.
Anyway, maybe someone will come back and make the rest of the Terry-the-Toad in Vietnam story. Feel the same way about D-Day "whereabouts unknown" in Animal House. There's a movie there waiting to be told.
Each section (year) is shot in a different manner to make a secondary visual comment. The Vietnam stuff is all shot on 16mm, hand-held and grainy as hell to simulate the stuff we were watching on the nightly news back then.
Milner's sequences are shot in super widescreen, Debbie's stuff is split screen, sped up, slowed down - your basic "statement" crap from the late 60's and Ron Howard's happy home life is shot with the over-lit, over-tailored feel of a "mainstream" comedy ala Doris Day/Bob Hope circa 1965.
Personally, I found it amusing.
Still the movie has its virtues including another great rock soundtrack and some nice cameos (especially Harrison Ford). So give it a look but don't expect for "More" to be more then the original.
The different types of screen sizes are nice--70mm for the race car sequences; small, hand-held for the Vietnam sequences; multiple screens for Candy Clark and the hippies and regular size screen for Howard and Williams "normal" couple. But, storywise, there was nothing new here and the different screen sizes can only hold you interest for a while. It was just an average movie--but a big let-down from the original. This was not a big hit when it was released--it disappeared quickly.
This is mostly a forgotten movie--as it should stay.
Lucas' brilliant original film was all about a group of friends on the archetypical "last big night" before school ends and Kurt (Ron Dreyfuss) and Steve (Ron Howard) are supposed to go off to college. One thing that made that film work, despite the fact that it's very episodic, is that you had the core characters together at the beginning and they come back together at the end. There's a disposition of time, like in Nick Ray's "Rebel Without a Cause" where a certain period of time becomes very elastic and takes on more meaning than such a specific time really would in actual life, but everything takes place in a static space. "More American Graffiti" is basically the opposite -- the space is very dynamic, with Toad (Charles Martin Smith) off in Vietnam, his former girlfriend Debbie (Candy Clark) partying with hippies in San Francisco, Steve and Laurie (Cindy Williams) involved in student protests in Berkeley, and John Miler (Paul Le Mat) drag racing on the semi-pro circuit. In a contrived meeting early in the film all the principles are brought together to watch John race, but after that the threads don't come back together and weave apart the way they do in the original. Instead they split off and we follow the characters through about 3 years' of time, just seeing various events on New Years Eve in what seems to be 1967, 68 and 69. It's easy for the audience to become confused, and I think it's fair to say that we do. While the original film seemed to condense important events and rites of passages into unreal theatrical time that produced an experience of nostalgia even for those who never experienced those events, this sequel drags and stretches the few plot points from the epilogue of the original and attempts to make them into a coherent film.
The best parts of the movie to me are the ones with Candy Clark in SF and Charles Martin Smith in Nam. Some of the jokes do fall flat but the style of those sections is interesting and they form a neat contrast with each other. A good movie could maybe have been made if these parts were just a bit better, and if the other parts weren't such a drag. Speaking of drag racing, the whole plot with Milner talking to a foreign exchange student was really lame, unfunny, and throwing in Mackenzie Phillips for a cameo didn't help at all. It was just another contrived moment, like when they briefly explain why Curt isn't in the movie because he's already in Canada. Instead Laurie just has another brother who is basically identical to Curt but has a different name and is now played by a very boring actor. There's a black kind of satire to some of the Vietnam stuff, very similar to what I would imagine Lucas and John Milius' original idea for "Apocalypse Now" would have been like. And there's some of that manic fun in the San Francisco scenes that made the first movie fun. But still along with that fun stuff, you have the rest of the movie dragging it down, as if anyone wants to see Steve and Laurie argue in their horrible suburban abode as if they were auditioning for a Spielberg movie about divorce and child abandonment. I think even if those parts of the movie weren't so painful, it still wouldn't really be comparable to the first movie because there's no closure and no sense of coming back together or of anybody having learned anything. It just sort of ends at the point when they ran out of money or something, a cheap freeze frame imitation of "Two-Lane Blacktop" and so many better films.
Like the original however, this film has a great soundtrack of period hits that is probably worth owning for its own sake and almost makes the movie itself palatable. The performances by Country Joe and the Fish are great, and Scott Glenn all duded up as a hippie in love with Candy Clark is a sight to see -- I wonder if even back then he had to use a wig? I couldn't possibly recommend this movie, and yet it has some small affection in my heart because I love the original so much. Every couple of decades I guess I have to give this movie a try just to make sure that it's really as worthless as I remember it being. It's a party killer but it's something that every fan of "American Graffiti" or George Lucas in general will want to see at least once or twice. It shows how a lot of effort can go into something and it can still turn out pretty half baked. It makes you reflect on how much of a miracle it is that Lucas actually made such a good movie as "American Graffiti" in the first place, as if all the elements were in place and all the appropriate gods had been placated. Unfortunately such was not the case for this film or for Bill Norton.
The issues of the 60's are brought to light here, but it's all over the place, beginning with New Year's Eve 1963, then three minutes later, it's New Year's Eve 1964, then three minutes later, it's New Year's Eve 1965, then three minutes later, it's back to 1963 again. Martin Smith is talking about his friend dying in a drag race a year ago, and a couple of scenes later, this friend is winning his next heat in a drag race and to top it all off, the drug scene and the flower children enter the picture (or pictures, in some cases, as many as three different camera shots are shown on the screen at the same time).
If you want to watch this film, you have to WATCH this film, but I'd advise you to stick to the original and leave it there. Wolfman Jack is heard in the beginning of the film before almost every song played in the background, but where'd he go? Maybe HE couldn't keep up with this film, either, and quit! 2 out of 10 stars!
Set on New year's eve in 1964, '65, '66 and '67, we have four stories about the characters from the first film. In '64, we have John Milner (Paul Le Mat) who is now a professional drag racer. He meets a foreign girl Eva, and though his plot really goes nowhere, it's the best of the four. In 1965, we have Toad (Charles Martin Smith) who is stuck in Vietnam, and more than anything, he wants out. He tries to find ways to hurt himself or do stupid things to get out. In '66, we have Debbie (Candy Clark), the girl who Toad picked up in the first movie. Now she is a pot smoking hippie, and really I'm not sure what her plot was about. It was her going to a concert...not much of anything happened. Finally, in 1967, Steve Bolander (Ron Howard) and Laurie Bolander (Cindy Williams) are having marriage problems that end in a anti-war rally and police action.
None of these stories are very good. The script in some parts features very, very bad dialogue. These poor characters who I enjoyed so much in the first film, ended up where they are here...why? Why was this sequel made? I guess if a sequel was made, it had to feature the Vietnam war, and hippies and police action, but the real thing is that this movie shouldn't have been made.
The direction was stylish, but it just amounts in a huge headache. Each story has a different style. Milner's is just a regular (depending on how you watch it) wide screen, and is filmed how the rest of the movie should be. Toad's plot was shot in 16mm, and what it amounts to is a poor looking picture, which is the size of a small box in the middle of the screen. Debbie's plot is shot in multi-screen. At one point there might have been one screen, but for the good majority, it's anywhere from two to twenty screens up at once. Don't bother trying to follow the screens, since there's nothing going on anyways. Steve and Laurie's plot has the weirdest filming style. It's style really doesn't mean anything, and is dumb and pointless. Instead of just a full widescreen, it's a condensed widescreen that looks like a full screen version of widescreen. Though I don't like the others, at least I understand what they were going for, this one just doesn't make sense.
The music is this movie's saving grace, not that it could save this! Bob Dylan, Simon and Grafunkel, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and dozens of others have nice songs featured here. They don't save the feature, they just make it a little better than it is. It's still bad!
Overall, this is a pointless sequel. Any fan of the original should avoid this lackluster sequel!
My rating: * 1/2 out of ****. 110 mins. PG for language, drug use and violence
However, More American Graffiti is one of the worst movies ever made.
It is hard to believe than anyone associated with the great original movie was involved with this terrible sequel. The part of the movie set in Vietnam was extremely inaccurate. (I served 18 months in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division.)
The whole movie had nothing worthwhile in any part of it.
If anyone ever wants to make a case against making sequels to great movies, More American Graffiti would be the prime example of what can go wrong.
The operative word here is "funny". This movie isn't even amusing. Debbie (Candy Clark) is a stripper mixed in with a bunch of dope spoking hippies and trying to bail her dealer boyfriend out of jail; Steve and Laurie (Ron Howard and Cindy Williams), the lovebirds in the original, have two kids and have become an annoying, bickering couple; Adorable little tomboy Carol (MacKenzie Phillips) has become "Rainbow", yet another hippie child. John Milner (Paul LeMat) is a loser race car driver whose fortune was foretold at the end of the original. Even Wolfman Jack, whose voice was such an integral part of the original, and gave it such a great flow, only is heard sporadically.
Perhaps it was different writers, a different director and the complete lack of a cohesive story line that makes this movie such a dismal failure.
The episodic charm and authentic nostalgia of the original is nowhere to be found in the sequel. It was a movie that didn't need to be made and its best just to remember what a great movie "American Graffiti" was and avoid the movie with "More" in the title.
Story tries to clarify plot points alluded to by the "fates" of those characters shown over the ending credits, but film feels utterly pointless, and new story elements(with Ron Howard and Cindy Williams) are really horrendous, so mundane and dispiriting.
Even George Lucas admitted he didn't know why he allowed it to be made!
It's good to see that the movie manages to bring back almost every actor from the first "American Graffiti" movie. Some in big, others in small cameo appearances such as Harrison Ford and Mackenzie Phillips. Just like "American Graffiti" the movie also features some then still unknown actors who are now big stars, such as Scott Glenn and Delroy Lindo. So really nothing wrong with the casting again. I wish I could say the same about the rest of the movie.
Basically "American Graffiti" wasn't a movie that needed a sequel, so in that regard, this movie already is a redundant and pointless one. But also the movie on its own adds very little. It's unclear if they movie wanted to make a statement or just wanted to entertain.
The movie handles some very serious and heavy subjects that were going on in the late '60's. Such as the Vietnam war, its anti-Vietnam war college protests, hippies, etcetera. It uses a comical approach of all these subject, that feels totally out of place and almost works offensive, especially the Vietnam and anti-war protest sequences.
The movie isn't told in chronological order, some story lines even occur years apart from the other. It makes the movie often more confusing and weak, than strong and gripping. The movie once more follows many different characters, this time in many different settings. It makes the movie feel disjointed, also since every plot line features its own cinematic style and differs from the other.
This movie really raises the question; why? Why is it so different from the first movie, why did most of the actors ever agreed to be in this? Why didn't Lucas directed this one? Why is it more comedy like- but are the subjects so heavy and serious? Why was this movie even made?
Neverhtheless as a stand-alone movie, it's still one that amuses enough. I mean I wasn't bored while watching it and some of its comedy still worked out fine. Also the great actors are a reason why this movie still remains a watchable enough one.
So it's watchable but still a redundant and pointless movie and therefor really not a recommendable one.
the incomparable original "American Graffiti"- but I think it stands
on its own as well. Shot and edited in a very original way,
especially for its time, this movie features almost the entire cast of
the original. Richard Dreyfus is the exception, and he is missed,
but not much. There are many plots, many time shifts, a lot of
stories juggling in the air, but it's all handled with grace and
aplomb by this relatively unknown director. It's a fun film- I wish
they'd do the same thing with "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" or
"Animal House". It's just fun to see all these characters from your
past all 'growed' up.