A long time ago (let’s say in 2004), in a small town far, far away (Wadsworth, Ill.), Patrick Read Johnson commenced production on his autobiographical coming-of-age drama, 5-25-77. That title refers to the exact date that George Lucas’s blockbuster space opera Star Wars arrived in theaters.
The 53-year-old Johnson was one of those fledgling filmmakers for whom the first Star Wars was a formative cinematic experience, eventually setting him on a path that led from the small town of Wadsworth to a career as a writer-director in Hollywood. (His directorial credits include the 1990 sci-fi comedy Spaced Invaders as well as 1994’s Baby’s Day Out, and he also co-wrote the story for 1996’s DragonHeart.) That personal journey is reenacted by his onscreen counterpart, movie-mad amateur filmmaker Pat, played by Freaks and Geeks star John Francis Daley, who was 19 when the film started shooting. “My intention was to make the movie look and feel like it was really shot in the ‘70s,” Johnson tells Yahoo Movies. “We painstakingly tried to re-create that period in every frame.”