More American Graffiti (1979)

More American Graffiti (1979)

Synopsis:

The teenagers from American Graffiti are back. Now, a little older but not much wiser, these youngsters struggle to find their purpose in life.

Reaction & Thoughts:

What ever happened to the characters in George Lucas’s American Graffiti? Nobody wanted to know, but here is the answer anyway. I’m sure no one was surprised when Lucas (Star Wars) decided to make a sequel to his early success. The Godfather Part II and Jaws 2 had made buckets of money so maybe Lucas told himself, “why not squeeze a few extra bucks out of my breakthrough movie?” I wish he had left it alone.

Written and directed by Bill L. Norton (Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend), More American Graffiti is divided into four vignettes, all set over four New Year’s Eveses. As I said before, each segment revolves around characters from the classic 1973 film.

In 1964, John (Paul LeMat, Strange Invaders) is trying his hand at professional drag racing. Next, it’s 1965 and Terry “The Toad” (Charles Martin Smith, Never Cry Wolf) is in Vietnam fighting communism. A year later, Deb (Candy Clark, Blue Thunder) and Carol (Mackenzie Phillips, Love Child) have joined a commune of hippies. Finally, in 1967, Steve (Ron Howard, TV’s The Andy Griffith Show) and Laurie (Cindy Williams, The Conversation) try to make their marriage work.

More American Graffiti has lots of problems, including an indecisive screenplay. Lucas had no intention of directing the film and he hand-picked Norton to write and direct the film. Lucas thought that Norton’s background in comedy was perfect for the project. There were rumors that Lucas directed some scenes and edited the film himself. Whatever the truth is, this is a huge mess. I couldn’t get over the fact that this was an unnecessary sequel made by profiteers, not artists.

There are many reasons why the film doesn’t work. Partially because the editing is uninspired — the back and forth between time-lines is jarring rather than illuminating — but mostly because the vignettes are poorly written. What are we supposed to get from these stories? It’s hard to tell because there is no unifying theme. The charming quality of the original is gone. Norton comes up with a few interesting gimmicks — each section was shot using distinctively different styles — but the content is awfully flat.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

American Graffiti had turned the teen comedy into an art-form and reliable money-making machine. More American Graffiti is an unnecessary sequel that left a bad taste in my mouth. Harrison Ford (Raiders of the Lost Ark) has an uncredited cameo as Falfa. Rosanna Arquette (Desperately Seeking Susan) and country music singer Naomi Judd appear in bit roles. Color, 110 minutes, Rated PG.

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