More American Graffiti (1979)

More American Graffiti (1979)

Synopsis:

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 Viet Nam 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, Eat My Dust) and Laurie (Cindy Williams, The Conversation) struggle to stay married.

Reaction & Thoughts:

George Lucas’s American Graffiti (1973) turned the teen comedy into an art-form, and a reliable money-making machine. 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.

More American Graffiti, written and directed by Bill L. Norton (Cisco Pike and Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend), is divided into four vignettes, all set over four New Year’s Eve’s. Each segment revolves around characters from the classic 1973 film. The movie has lots of problems, including an indecisive screenplay.

Lucas had no intention of directing the film and he hand-picked unknown 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. The back and forth between time-lines is jarring rather than illuminating.

Partially because the editing is uninspired, 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:

More American Graffiti is an unnecessary sequel that left a bad taste in my mouth. Harrison Ford (Raiders of the Lots 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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