If you were to ask me what the ultimate "all-nighter" movie is, I think the first thing to spring to mind would be 'Dazed and Confused'. It was just that big a deal in the late 90's. But I'd have to say that the classic of the sub-genre (that I feel like I made up, but it totally exists) that kinda got things rolling, it's gotta be 'American Graffiti'!
What's an "all-nighter" movie, you ask? It's quite simply a movie, usually a comedy, that takes place within a 24-hour span. This is typically over the course of the night, as they're more or less "party" movies. Besides the two examples posed, 'Project X', 'Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle' and 'Superbad' are other prime examples.
'American Graffiti', released in '73, highlights the end of the summer of '62 (so yes, I'm cheating a bit here on the theme this month) for a handful of high school graduates who are about to go their separate ways.
First up, we have Curt Henderson and Steve Bolander (Richard Dreyfus and Ron Howard, respectively). About to go to college on a scholarship, Curt starts having second thoughts about leaving it all behind. Steve, however, is ready to go with him and start fresh, quite happily leaving everything behind, including his girlfriend, who is also Curt's sister, Laurie (Cindy Williams). Curt's beliefs that he should stay behind are even strengthened by the now somewhat famous scene of Suzanne Somers mouthing the words "I love you" to him in a passing-by T-Bird.
Meanwhile, we have super geek, Terry, a.k.a. "Toad" (Charlie Martin Smith) who has access to Steve's car for the night - a '58 Chevy Impala. He manages to find the lovely Debbie (Candy Clark) and have a side adventure with her. Then, in a third story, there's John (Paul Le Mat) - a greaser type, who proudly cruises around in his '32 Ford Coupe while he's tricked into towing around a young teenage girl named Carol (Mackenzie Phillips). All the while, he's being sought after by Bob Falfa (Harrison Ford - pre "Star Wars' breakout) and his '55 Chevy for a drag race.
The entirety of the movie jumps between these characters and their respective stories. One could almost see this as more of an anthology - Curt's story, Toad's story and John's story. Let's not forget Steve and Laurie's story as well, even if it is the most boring part of the film. It's just kinda showing what can happen to a relationship if it's strained by the concept of one of the couple moving away. Meanwhile, Curt has a run in with a gang known as the Pharaohs, Toad tries way too hard to impress Debbie, facing the consequences of inexperience, and John - well, shit, everyone loves John. He's just kind of a bad ass.
The entirety of this film is surrounded by the sounds of Wolfman Jack - a radio DJ who was HUGE in the 60's. Think of him as being the major name in radio broadcasting before Howard Stern came along - only Wolfman was a bit more tasteful (as you kinda had to be for the time. Remember, this was the 60's). It all adds to the whole atmosphere of everything, and things feel pretty solidly authentic. My parents would watch it with us when we were younger, and claim that it got things pretty accurate - as in "yep, we did all that when we were that age".
Anyway, I could go on and on about this classic, and I have to draw the line somwhere. All I can say is that this is one of those movies I CAN recommend to literally anyone and everyone. I feel like there's something here for everyone, and if nothing else, it's an interesting piece of pop culture's history. I claim it as the beginning of "all-nighter" movies, myself (though I could be wrong). If you haven't seen it yet, have a sit down for a couple of hours and enjoy. It's just a lot of fun.