Muscle Car Tourney #3: American Graffiti (1973) vs Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
What does American Graffiti (1973) and Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) have in common? Cars, character conflict, glory shots, and lots of other stuff. American Graffiti (1973) is the most nostalgic movie ever made, but Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) doesn’t try to reach for anything more than it can honestly accomplish, although that accomplishment isn’t much.
I’ll start with Gone in 60 Seconds, and hopefully people won’t click away. The 2000 version of Gone doesn’t have much in common with the 1974 original, except it modernizes everything and keeps some of the plot. The plot for the 1974 version is a little better by comparison, as the main characters are offered money for stealing certain cars in a set amount of days. It’s sorta muddled and all over the place, though.
Gone is a Nicholas Cage vehicle, no pun intended. Vin Diesel does everything he does, but better, except Gone came before The Fast and the Furious (2001). Gone has some really annoying characters, and Nicholas Cage is smirking for most of the film.
The environments and the set designs are really where Gone becomes memorable. It’s on TV every other day because of the amazing visuals, and the awesome-looking cars. It’s pretty eye-catching, which is probably why TV executives love it. American Graffiti, not so much. Graffiti has a better story and a better plot, but forget that, it can’t be on TV without something commercial and gimmicky to sell it. Mustangs are awesome, anyway.
The TV show Happy Days took everything superficial and fun about American Graffiti and dropped it into a formula which worked for a number of years. Graffiti opens with a classic theme, which is the themesong for Happy Days. The movie has Cindy Williams, Ron Howard, and every other young up-and-coming actor from the 70s, which inspired Happy Days too. If you grew up during the 80s, you probably remember Happy Days from endless reruns in syndication. It’s part of our culture, and evokes a more honest, colorful, and carefree time, just like the movie, American Graffiti.
American Graffiti has this dangerous vibe running through it that is symbolic of youngsters and their antics. They cause havoc, drag race, and plot against police. The most memorable scenes are not just the races, and I love the score, which has this Motown vibe. However, the action in the final scene of Gone tops anything Graffiti does on wheels, so there is that.
I guess it depends on your mood, but American Graffiti is a better movie, in my opinion. It is a little over-the-top with the nostalgia, but uses it where appropriate, like to grab our attention at the beginning of a drag race. Gone does a good job building and building to the final chase, and the Eleanor 67 Mustang is arguably one of the most memorable cars in movie history, but the movie just isn’t very deep. At all. Graffiti has awesome cars, a good plot, decent dialogue and better actors, so it’s got a little of everything, while Gone only has great cars and a good atmosphere.
Tourney Competition #3 – This post