The fifth one? I gotta give you two. Bend the rules a little bit. These are both not in the '80s but they were both really inspirational to the movie: Dazed and Confused and American Graffiti.
The ultimate all-in-one night, end-of-school movies.
Right. When we looked at it, at the beginning, we loved all these '80s movies and yet this [type of story] hasn't been done for the '80s -- the look back. It's different from the movies that were shot in the present, because it's implicit that there's a message in looking back. My producing partner was my roommate in boarding school and I remember us watching Dazed and Confused -- this was a film from the '90s looking back at the '70s -- and thinking, what an amazing cast. We really wanted to take the '80s seriously, like those films. I mean, I love The Wedding Singer, it's a great movie, but it was only eight years out of the '80s, and you don't have real view then. I think it'd be very hard to make the '90s movie now. But I think those movies, especially American Graffiti, which was the first one, really had something to say about that time. And like our film, they were always at the end of a threshold -- like, they literally flew to Vietnam the next month [at the end of Graffiti], these main characters; or in Dazed and Confused you can see that kid's about to graduate. It's the end of an era. That's why we set ours at a Labor Day party, so it's at the end of summer, and it's in '88, so it's kind of at the end of the '80s. Matt Franklin is kind of like a beautiful swan in the recession, probably [laughs], but a real ugly duckling in the go-go '80s.
Is that why you chose 1988? Apart from being able to use pop music, like N.W.A., that was changing in tone at the time?
Right, the music's great. I mean, at the party the D.J.'s playing stuff that they had when they went to high school, so it's kind of more of the '80s. But we wanted the feeling that Matt's gonna do great in the '90s -- he really is made for the '90s. And that's the thing that both of those movies have: the modern-day protagonist in a film from that time.
You're like the Richard Dreyfuss character in Graffiti?
I like Richard Dreyfuss but I more identified with the Ron Howard character when I saw that movie. But yeah, look Richard Dreyfuss is amazing in that movie. It's really interesting to me when a movie's set 20 years in the past and it's a period piece but it's as close as you can get to that period. It's implicit that there's a message inside of it, and yet those films did a really good job of being just a fun blast to watch -- there's no kind of homework to do, you know. Plus there are two audiences when you do this 20-year thing: there's the audience that's just swimming in nostalgia watching it, and then there's the audience that discovers it for the first time.
Were there any behavioral quirks of '80s movie characters that you studied up on? I'm thinking of how you tilt your Wayfarers down when you walk into that house party.
Right -- all those things, man. We shot that one and I thought, "Is this gonna work?" -- and now it's the poster.
But you're wearing different shades in the poster -- you've got the Back to the Future aviators on.
Ah, yeah... I think they tried a lot of different shades for the poster and I am certainly a huge Back to the Future fan -- so I was not against it. I really walk up into the camera and make eye contact at the moment. So I thought, if [I don't get to do it in this movie], then when? [laughs]