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In the summer of 1965, strict high-school Westwood's senior class in its privileged white suburb of L.A. graduates. Their relief to get out of the oppressive model of 'good American' behavior none actually adopted is soon spoiled. Surfer boy George Jr. 'Stick' is enlisting as volunteer for Vietnam, which is portrayed as a 'police action', panics on his last evening. Academic weakling Pirate, who intended to dodge a draft as drifter, suddenly faces the pregnancy of his lifelong true love Sunny. A spoiled 'princess' (also narrator) bitches because her parents want her to attend UCLA, not 'revolutionary' Berkeley. Calvin, the only black mate, lives in the poor quarter Watts, where the majority of his race plunders and attacks everyone, including class poet Michael Finnegan, whose family treated Calvin as an adopted son. Finnegan decides to symbolically deal with the hated school principal's patriotic pride, the Soldier statue... Written by
I look at this movie, which tries to collect all of this rebel youth spirit and embody it within a six or seven characters, as most movies about the 60s often seem to do. The result is often clichéd and I'm wondering whether, in the end, these movies are encouraging a sort of myth. Yes, there was the civil strife that lasted at least twenty years, starting with the culmination of the civil rights movement in the mid fifties and continuing to the end of the Vietnam War. That's a long time for a lot of anger, confusion, and energy to come out. And, of course, it did. But how much of it was done in this sort of way, this almost ritual arrangement of characters and themes? This movie made it look like, first, that all of the youth (at least in this town) were in favor of simply one side of questioning their parents or teachers (or other's) judgments and rebelling non-stop against that. Is that the way things went on after being saturated in this struggle for change on so many fronts (civil rights, the war, the feminist movement, etc)? Movies like this tend to be less realistic in their efforts to mark a particular decade, or a particular era, with this desired representation. And "There Goes My Baby" does with particularly little, if any, relent.
This is the story of six friends on the eve of their high school graduation in 1965. Post high-school plans for one involves going into the Army, after having enlisted. For two others, it means hitting the road and "discovering this Country" and sort of getting lost in that hippie culture (at least as embraced by the character, Sunshine). For two of them, it's off to college. And for yet another, it means trying to get famous (an odd one out in this particular mix of characters). But, things suddenly change when, in such a short span of time, they each seem to have their little flirtations with the bigger restlessness of the decade (riots, protests, and so forth) that cause them to rethink things (although, some already realize what's what). It just seems to easily, and done with an abundance of corniness that should have been held at bay if this movie was to be as effective as the filmmakers anticipated. There are far too many ultra-patriotic speeches that seem more laughable than dramatic. And as such, it makes the entire film even more ridiculous.
As others may be attracted to the film for the same reason I was, you do get to see a number of well-known actors in their early days. Look for then-unknown Mark Ruffalo talking to "Stick" (Ricky Schroeder) in one scene where he talks about having found someone to buy Stick's Woody (yeah, that sounds funny).
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