Where were you in the summer of '62? George Lucas' American Graffiti asks this big question as it takes us on a journey into the lives of recent high school graduates who have their whole lives ahead of them. Or so they think. Over the course of the night, we see people fall in love, become closer friends, and maybe even get a glimmer that the best is yet to come. 

American Graffiti is a seminal film, the one that broke Lucas into the mainstream and allowed him to chase the dreams of Star Wars a few years later. It was also a smash hit, surpassing its meager budget and putting Lucas' name on every meeting sheet in Hollywood. 

The movie did so well that the town felt compelled to make a sequel, even without Lucas. But it was a very weird sequel. 

Check out this video from The Royal Ocean Film Society, and let's talk after. 

Behind the Weirdest George Lucas Sequel of All

It took almost a decade of Lucas and even Coppola declining to direct a sequel for American Graffiti for the studio to just go ahead and make one without them. More American Graffiti came out in 1979 and was a continuation of the first film's characters' lives. 

Whereas the first film followed a group of friends before they set off for college, this film shows where they end up a few years later. Most of the cast returned, and the story was given a twist. Instead of one night, the film was set over the course of four consecutive New Years from 1964 to 1967. It depicts scenes from each of these years, intertwined with one another as though events happen simultaneously. 

There are scenes from Woodstock, Vietnam, and peace protests. The film kills off characters in off-screen car wrecks, the war, and shows some abusive relationships along the way. Needless to say, the chipper and fun attitudes from the first movie are replaced by something more introspective, somber, and yearning for simpler times. 

To complicate matters more, this movie never understood what its tone should be. It brought up all the serious moments of the 1960s, but after showing things like police beatings and marches, it would offer slapstick gags and silly jokes. This caused people to never be able to live in the moment. While the first film was all good vibes and excitement, the second was a roller coaster of emotion that felt like it had no idea where to turn.  

The film made its money back at the box office, but critic reviews were not pleasant. 

Janet Maslin of The New York Times called it "grotesquely misconceived, so much so that it nearly eradicates fond memories of the original... The times—the story is scattered like buckshot from 1964 to 1967—have grown dangerous, but these people haven't awakened at all. They're still the same fun-loving rock-and-rollers, and there's nothing they can't trivialize. So here is a comic look at campus rioting. Here are the beach party aspects of the Vietnam War."

Remember that tone is one of the most important elements in your own story. It's something you should nail down early, and stick to for the duration of your screenplay.

Have you seen the movie? Let us know what you think in the comments? 

Source: The Royal Ocean Film Society