5-25-77 (2017)

It’s a shame that in 2022, a year filled with movies about movies that landed with a thud, that the best one, “5-25-77” will have gone largely unnoticed and ignored. “5-25-77” is a love letter about movie making, it’s an ode to the art of filmmaking, and how film can also be a reflection of how we view life. Director Patrick Read Johnson’s coming of age drama comedy is a pretty excellent indie film, one that I’ve been waiting for over five years to watch that is now being available to view for a wider audience. 

“5-25-77” is a coming-of-age comedy set in 1976, inspired by the true story of a nerdy, alienated, hopeful filmmaker named Patrick Read Johnson about growing up, falling in love, and becoming the very first fan of the movie that changed everything, Star Wars. Faced with the potential to go to Hollywood, he has to decide if he wants to stay in his small town and marry the love of his life, or go out and face his destiny.

Again, I’ve been waiting for over five years to watch “5-25-77” and first got wind of the film back in 2018 when I came across the film’s website. Since then it’s been traveling across the country in small screenings but sadly never was made available to a wider audience. Thankfully that all changed in 2022, and I’m very happy that it did. Not only is Patrick Read Johnson’s indie drama comedy charming but it is also deep down a sad tale about realizing your potential and facing an uncertain destiny. The film is mainly the story of Patrick Read Johnson whose life is spent earning whatever money he can in order to make fan films for his favorite genre pictures like “Jaws” and “Planet of the Apes.”

His life is changed after a viewing of “2001: A Space Odyssey” and he’s hell bent on meeting Douglas Trumbull. Most of the movie’s dramatic weight is placed on John Francis Daley who is absolutely fantastic in the role of Patrick. As the central character, he’s a heavily ambitious young filmmaker desperate to break free from the confines of his small town. He’s of course convinced that he’s being held back by his financial situation, but the more he ventures out, the more he comes to a massive self realization that leaves him at a crossroads. This becomes especially true in the face of his parents’ divorce, and a family that demands more of him the older he gets.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Colleen Camp, Austin Pendleton and Emmi Chen’s supporting turns. While “5-25-77” is an often funny coming of age film, it’s also filled with an inherent undercurrent of sadness. Much of Patrick’s own coming of age involves having to inevitably say goodbye to certain elements of his life, and Patrick is never really sure if he’s ready or not. “5-25-77” is also every bit a human tale as it is a dedication to the magic of “Star Wars,” the latter of which might ring loudly with the devoted fan base. Patrick Read Johnson has an obvious passion and awe for the film and its legacy, and the movie relates much of its influence to Patrick’s own personal progression.

While the movie is obviously filmed on a modest budget, Patrick Read Johnson is able to pull off so much, including some truly beautiful shots that depict his character’s own sense of imagination and hunger for life. I really hope audiences go looking for “5-25-77” and appreciate a truly good movie about the joy of making movies.

Now Streaming on Most Digital Platforms Including Paramount Plus, Showtime and Hulu, et al.