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More American Graffiti

More American Graffiti

By Patrick Samuel • May 1st, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 3/5
Universal Pictures

Release date: May 7th, 2012
Year of production: 1979

Certificate (UK): 12
Running time: 110 minutes

Writer and director: Bill L. Norton

Cast: Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Cindy Williams, Candy Clarke, Charles Martin Smith,

American Graffiti Review

Change is inevitable. It keeps us alive, moving and learning. In the years after high school I remember things changing a lot. Gone were the days of worrying how I’d get out of gym class, where I’d sit at lunch time in the cafeteria and how to be popular despite always being the new kid.

They all seem like valid things to be worried about as a teenager but skip forward a few years later, once you start to let in the world, and you find yourself with much bigger things on your plate.

There’s the job you have to show up for or you won’t be able to make rent. There’s no peace at home because the kids a running riot and the youngest is teething. You start to wonder if you got married too young. What does it matter anyway when it looks like the world is always on the brink of a catastrophe?

 More American Graffiti

More American Graffiti, the sequel to George Lucas’ American Graffiti (1973), picks up with the kids of ’62 after they’ve left school. Whereas the first film was set over the course of their graduation night, this one follows them over four consecutive New Year’s Eves from 1964 to 1967.

Steve (Ron Howard) and Laurie (Cindy Williams) end up married and with kids, but they’re far from being happy. Laurie wants to go off and work for a few hours every day but Steve is against the idea, in his mind, a woman’s place is in the home.

John Milner (Paul Le Mat) is now a drag racer and has worked his way up to being something of a celebrity, but he’s gone a big race coming up and his entire reputation is hanging on it. He’s still got his Yellow Deuce Coupe.

Terry (Charles Martin Smith) is off to fight in Vietnam, but once he gets there he realises this isn’t his war and tries every way possible to get a discharge. Debbie (Candy Clark), the girl he met on the night of his graduation, is now a hippy and ends up dancing with a band. There’s a brief appearance by Bob Falfa (Harrison Ford), now a traffic cop. He pulls Debbie over in her car and arrests her pot-smoking loser boyfriend.

 More American Graffiti

What makes More American Graffiti an interesting film to watch is the way it portrays its views on the Vietnam War. It’s clearly against it and we see this in the way Terry becomes disillusioned once he arrives there.

We also see it in the wave of protests that Steve and Laurie inadvertently get caught up in. At first they are fully supportive of the war and don’t actually know very much about what’s going on. They want to support their president’s decision, but after a fight with Steve about getting a job, Laurie leaves and goes to stay with her brother who plans on burning his draft card in public with other students and protestors. Steve goes to find her and before they know it, they hapless pair are herded and bludgeoned with batons by the heavy-handed cops.

 More American Graffiti

While it deals with these important issues, the other plots in More American Graffiti don’t quite match. Milner’s drag racing and his romance with an Icelandic girl, along with Debbie’s hippy exploits, weaken the overall impact of the film.

Using multiple formats to differentiate between the four stories, it also takes a little time to get used to, but it’s very interesting to watch. Terry’s story is filmed with grainy super 16 mm film, making it look like war footage shot for a news report. Debbie’s story looks a lot like Woodstock (1970) with its use of split screens, making for some funny moments but it also bringing to life the musical elements with bright colours and animations.

Rather than re-treading the same ground it’s a film that tries to do something different and relevant for the time it was made, but it’s easy to see why More American Graffiti didn’t go down well with critics and audiences. There’s very little of what they loved in American Graffiti and the time span is a little jarring, but as a story that shows how the Vietnam War affected young people, whose lives were relatively simple up until then, it’s interesting to watch.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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