American Graffiti

Movie review by Randy White, Common Sense Media
American Graffiti Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 13+

Coming-of-age classic still a must-see for teens.

PG 1973 110 minutes

Parents say

age 15+

Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 12+

Based on 15 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A Lot or a Little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

It nails youthful nostalgia almost perfectly!

This is definitely one of the most influential of all coming-of-age films. I assume that this movie has established a new narrative style, and has proved that nostalgic films are not necessarily made for the sake of nostalgia, for it captures the zeitgeist of the 1960s America instead of mimicking it. A notable example of the influence of American Graffiti is Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused. And while I wasn't as engaged and invested in the characters of the former as I was with of the latter, American Graffiti admittedly is the more mature and thought-provoking of the two. The characters here have some depth you would probably never see in slice-of-life movies. And this comes from the sharp dialogue that fleshed out the characters throughout the movie's running time in a very subtle way. Some characters have better and more well-developed arcs than the others. They all are relatable, somewhat likable, and played by very good actors who did their best in their roles; but some character arcs feel as if they aren't fully-developed and lack some pieces in the middle. Ron Howard's character, Steve is a case in point; although I was quite invested in his character by the end of the movie. This leads us to my second issue with this movie, which I mentioned above. It's that the movie took me a little while to get into its characters and whole the story in general. I think the reason of this problem is that the movie promised me from its very beginning that it would focus on the characters' story-lines to flesh them out; not their journeys. Don't get me wrong, I adore slice-of-life and road movies, and I also knew that American Graffiti is this kind of a movie. But I guess the first minutes would a bit misleading, and therefore it took me sometime for the movie to draw me in. I can't praise the movie's soundtrack enough! I mean, it's absolutely one of the greatest film soundtracks ever! The movie wouldn't have been so nostalgic, if it wasn't for its killer soundtrack. It is a key factor in capturing the era's spirit, and also in giving the movie its distinctive bitter-sweet vibe. I think I won't stop listening to it for a long time! American Graffiti is also a proof that George Lucas is a great director as he is a great writer. I know that the dialogue is one of the film's best merits; but man, the camera work is so exquisite, and the color-grading is superb and quite expressive. The movie also has some brilliant moments of scene-blocking that, once again, gave the movie its evocative atmosphere. (8/10)

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
1 person found this helpful.
age 14+

Great movie!

This movie is really good but deserves to be pg-13. There’s profanity and a scene with mooning. It’s a fun movie about high schoolers and their adventures. A 13 year old watched this movie and loved it.

This title has:

Educational value
Too much swearing

Movie Details

Our Editors Recommend

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

  • Cartoon hands high fiving
    Friendship
    See all
  • Cartoon picture of a high school letterman's jacket
    High School
    See all

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate