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In the final few days of Pop's Paradise - a hamburger joint that's been a second home to Westwood High's senior class - and a group of friends must face the biggest decisions of their lives. There's Stick, a surfer headed for Vietnam, Pirate, who wants to discover America along Route 66, and Michael, whose political activism may destroy his Harvard-bound future. Little do any of them realize that their final carefree days will also mark the end of their - and all of America's - innocence. Written by
It's the summer of 1965 in Los Angeles. And a group of photogenic high school students contemplate their lives and their futures in this nostalgia flick aimed mostly at baby boomers. Teenage angst, emotional turmoil, and general confusion comprise the fuel for a plot that centers largely around a colorful burger joint called "Pops Paradise".
Hollywood has been down this cinematic road before, many times. The screenplay here is conventional. Characters tend toward stereotypes. The kids are idealistic; the school principal is unrealistically belligerent and unsympathetic; and Pops has the requisite cool jiving disc jockey. The script's dialogue is fairly poor in that there is very little subtext.
Even so, the film has terrific 1960's production design. One of the main characters drives a black 1957 Chevy, the vehicle icon of that era. And, many scenes occur at Pops wherein a parade of old cars slowly encircles the front entrance. Clothes and hairstyles are typical for that era. Overall quality of acting for the ensemble cast is acceptable. Kelli Williams, in particular, gives a nice performance as a budding flower child.
Arguably, the best element of the film is the rock'n roll music. "One Fine Day", "California Dreaming", "Mama Said", "Barbara Ann", "Loco-Motion", and The Diamonds' "Little Darlin" are among the great songs, together with the title song by The Drifters.
Although the film's screenplay is sub-par, elaborate production design and some great oldies but goodies give "There Goes My Baby" great 60's atmosphere and the realistic feel of a turbulent era that now seems far off and illusory, in retrospect.
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