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Parents' Guide to

American Graffiti

By Randy White, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

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

Movie PG 1973 110 minutes
American Graffiti Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 4 parent 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
2 people found this helpful.
age 18+
It may be a good movie, but it started off using God's name in vain.

This title has:

Too much swearing
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (14 ):

An unknown George Lucas, four years before he would make Star Wars, set a standard for teen movies with this exceptional film. The cast is uniformly strong. Most of the young actors are famous now -- Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfus, Suzanne Sommers, Mackenzie Phillips. And the soundtrack, virtually a greatest hits collection from the era, includes recordings from such early rock legends as Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Fats Domino. The songs are beautifully woven into the restless teenage world.

Like the characters themselves, America in 1962 was on the brink of enormous changes, and Lucas captures that momentous feeling tinged with uneasiness in the exceptional American Graffiti. Children may ask, "Was it really like that?"

Movie Details

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