All American High Revisited

Rated: R | Running Time: 82 Minutes
From: Virgil Films
On DVD & VOD September 15, 2015

I graduated in 1985. Yes, in the eyes of the youngins I am now the old guy. We also just had our 30 year reunion, another reunion that I missed. I missed my 10 year because of covering a Bon Jovi concert. I missed my 20 year because of supposed to be covering a Bon Jovi concert but that falling through. I missed my 30 year because I just couldn’t swing the time off, but ended up at a Chicago Cubs game. I’m thinking we should have a 33 year reunion in Chicago so maybe I can attend.

What does my reminiscing have to do with a movie review? Well the review is of the documentary “All American High Revisited.” The original “All American High” was shot it 1984 from the perspective of a foreign exchange student, Rikki, who hailed from Finland, giving a look at the high school students of that year, as well as Riccki’s comparison with her life in Finland. Fast forward 30 years and Keva Rosenfeld comes across his documentary in a storage vault, along with some reviews of the movie, and wonders what has happened to some of the kids in the film. Luckily for us he finds a few.

For “All American High Revisited,” the first hour is the original documentary, a great look at life in 1984, and the weird thing is that there are many things that aren’t much different in terms of life issues than there are today, which I don’t know is a good or bad thing. There are discussions about guns and nuclear weapons, there is a class called “Survival of Singles,” there is a class of the challenges of getting married and how to navigate divorce, this being California there is a surfing class, and in the end, one quote sums up high school for lots of kids, “Let’s party and have fun as long as we can.” I will say this, though, those kids had some way-organized parties. $3 cover with the invite, $5 without, all-day preparation, and a couple of good fights to clear out the party. I saw that and just thought how lame I was in high school.

Intermixed with the partying Americans there was Rikki, telling the differences between life in the United States and life in Finland, how Finland had no shopping centers at the time, the attitudes about sex, and her quote at the end, “How can I go back home to the hard school work?” Yup, high school in America – a bunch of slackers!

It is interesting looking back at that year (my wife exclaimed as we were watching, “I had a dress like that!”), especially as the students started giving answers to that they wanted in their future, and then the “Revisited” part begins as Keva tracks down some of the kids from the film to find out how their lives have changed. We find that Cesar, the metal-head and slacker, ended up being a bass player in a band on his eventual career as a member of the California Highway Patrol. William quotes himself “I was wearing sunglasses in those clips because I was probably stoned. I don’t have any recollection of that.” He ended up being a home builder, “How did I get here? … I’m just a scared kid with a bunch of years under my belt.”

Keva did the smart thing, too, of filming the adults as they watched their clips as kids from the film, and many of the reactions are what you would probably have, the “Wow, I was like that?” moment.

I won’t spoil some of the other juxtapositions of the kids from their past selfs to current lives, but it is interesting how the hopes and dreams you have when you are younger can change drastically, I mean, where is my Trans Am?

You can talk about time capsules, how they’ll put a box in the foundation of a building to be opened in 100 years, but the time capsules of the future will be things like “All American High Revisited,” because it gives a better representation of a moment in time, and shows how people actually ended up. “Oooh, look at that newspaper clipping from 1925, and that record album! How did people listen to those things?” Those time capsules don’t show life, “All American High Revisited” does.

It’s 4 1/2 stars out of 5 for “All American High Revisited.” I would have gone for 5 stars, but I just wanted more of the “After” moments. Sure, I suppose it might have dragged on a bit, but seeing how people changed is really the gold for me for a documentary like “All American High,” and revisiting.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!