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American Graffiti (1973)

tomatometer

95

Average Rating: 8.3/10
Reviews Counted: 39
Fresh: 37 | Rotten: 2

One of the most influential of all teen films, American Graffiti is a funny, nostalgic, and bittersweet look at a group of recent high school grads' last days of innocence.

100

Average Rating: 8.5/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 0

One of the most influential of all teen films, American Graffiti is a funny, nostalgic, and bittersweet look at a group of recent high school grads' last days of innocence.

audience

84

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 62,514

My Rating

Movie Info

It's the last night of summer 1962, and the teenagers of Modesto, California, want to have some fun before adult responsibilities close in. Among them are Steve (Ron Howard) and Curt (Richard Dreyfuss), college-bound with mixed feelings about leaving home; nerdy Terry "The Toad" (Charles Martin Smith), who scores a dream date with blonde Debbie (Candy Clark); and John (Paul Le Mat ), a 22-year-old drag racer who wonders how much longer he can stay champion and how he got stuck with 13-year-old

PG,

Drama, Comedy

George Lucas, Gloria Katz, Willard Huyck

Sep 15, 1998

Universal Pictures

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All Critics (39) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (37) | Rotten (2) | DVD (15)

There is brilliant interplaying and underplaying, of script, performers and direction which will raise howls of laughter from audiences, yet never descends on the screen to overdone mugging, pratfall and other heavy-handed devices normally employed.

June 27, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A brilliant work of popular art, it redefined nostalgia as a marketable commodity and established a new narrative style, with locale replacing plot, that has since been imitated to the point of ineffectiveness.

June 27, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film that launched a thousand careers.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

American Graffiti acts almost as a milestone to show us how far (and in many cases how tragically) we have come.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is a very good movie, funny, tough, unsentimental.

May 21, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Nearly 40 years later it still plays as a loose and vibrant testament to an era that is so distinctly America.

September 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Trespass
Trespass

Anyone who has spent their teenage years cruising up and down Main Street will connect with the film... which is part of the reason I didn't.

September 5, 2013 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

Playfully suggests what life was like for white teenagers in small-town America during the 1950s and early 1960s.

May 21, 2012 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

American Graffiti is a music-infused tone poem - a fond, delicate trip back to an era often forgotten.

January 29, 2012 Full Review Source: IGN DVD
IGN DVD

It's one of the all-time great feel good films, but its sly cultural commentary is what makes it the masterpiece that it is.

April 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Autopsy
Cinema Autopsy

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

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A funny-serious movie with gorgeous cars and colours and an amazing feel for the artefacts of an instantly vanished era.

May 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Lucas' direction is skilful and assured -- he follows several stories with wit and sensitivity -- and he's matched by his cast, the whole film perfectly evoking the end of an era.

May 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

If Last picture Show presents gloomy portrait of small-town life prior to the advent of TV, Lucas moves the setting forward by a decade, in 1962, when TV had already become the mainstay of pop culture, though for his youths, radio is the relevant medium.

February 13, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

...the ultimate nostalgia movie of all time ...

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Lucas' sleeper hit...casts a rose-colored eye back to a placid pre-Vietnam America, a time when rock 'n' roll was young and hot rods were cool.

June 3, 2005 Full Review Source: Boulder Weekly

A successful tribute to an era of optimism and competitiveness which was bitchin' -- and now seems very far in the past.

May 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Trend setter, nostalgic, feel good hit

October 23, 2004

A hallmark film of the 1970s.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Destined to be an instant classic. The performances are timeless.

September 18, 2002
Moviehole

Audience Reviews for American Graffiti

American Graffiti is rightfully regarded as one of the best odes to the 50's (ok, the 60's but you know where I'm coming from). I think the key to its success is that it doesn't set out to tell a story as such, instead it simply shows the way of life and how it was all in one night. Great characters, great script and great Cars. Seriously, people say that the music is the main attraction, and it is good but those Cars are something else. I wonder what Lucas would have gone on to do had Star Wars not have been so successful. This and THX 1138 are great films. I'm not saying the Star Wars film weren't great, heaven forbid, it's just that he has stuck with that and Indiana Jones and not come up with anything else. I wonder if a few great films will remain unmade because of this, I guess we'll never know.
October 18, 2013
SirPant

Super Reviewer

My favorite George Lucas film, "American Graffiti" nails youthful nostalgia almost perfectly, with believably charming, yet confused characters, an incredible, almost omnipresent soundtrack, and great car-based visuals which are trance-inducing as well as useful in placing audiences firmly within the strangely familiar world of teenagers in 1962.
October 8, 2013
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

"American Graffiti" is the type of movie that I can see a lot of people disliking, but by the end of the movie, after all the characters go through their transformations, it is very interesting, funny, and heart warming to see how mature kids used to be, when they needed to be. They still have an insane amount of fun while knowing that life is coming, tomorrow. Their plan is to have one last great night on the town, picking up girls, having sex, and street racing. There have been many films made that are similar to this concept, but George Lucas directs this in ways that I never would have seen coming. The characters are loveable, the premise is relatable, an the era of the 1960's was captured with perfection. The retro feel of the entire movie had a smile on my face. Still, it feels a little too long and some of the dialogue is corny. Overall, "American Graffiti" is a classic teen dramedy that everyone can relate to. It's terrific entertainment!
April 3, 2012
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

An entertaining and sweet drama comedy with great cast and direction. American Graffiti flaw with a very sad ending to a very funny film. Fresh.
March 19, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

    1. Debbie: Besides, it only took me one night to realize if brains were dynamite you couldn't blow your nose.
    – Submitted by Thomas M (15 months ago)
    1. Carol: Your car is uglier than I am. That didn't come out right.
    – Submitted by Eduardo T (2 years ago)
    1. Curt Henderson: I'm telling you this was the most perfect, dazzling creature I've ever seen!
    2. Steve Bolander: She's gone. Forget it.
    3. Curt Henderson: She spoke to me, she spoke to me right through the window. I think she said I love you. That means nothing to you people? You have no romance, no soul? Someone wants me. Someone roaming the streets wants me. Will you turn the corner?
    – Submitted by Hector H (2 years ago)
    1. Steve Bolander: You wanna end up like John? You just can't stay seventeen forever.
    – Submitted by Hector H (2 years ago)
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