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In Search of America Reviews

Paul Bogart and Lewis John Carlino's made-for-TV generation-gap drama is dated and melodramatic, but occasionally captures the spirit of its time. Restless middle-class college student Mike Olson (Jeff Bridges) shocks his family by announcing that he's dropping out of school to figure out his place in the world. After they have the usual arguments about responsibility versus personal growth, Mike suggests that rather than criticize, his family -- parents Ben and Jenny (Carl Betz, Vera Miles) and no-nonsense Grandma Rose (Ruth McDevitt) -- should come along and make up their own minds about the counterculture. They pile into a magic bus and set out for a Woodstock-like rock festival, where Mike meets charismatic, free-spirited singer-songwriter Kathy (Renne Jarrett) and Jenny takes a maternal interest in beatifically pregnant hippie chick Anne (Tyne Daly) and her alienated old man, burnout J.J. (Michael Anderson, Jr.), who are determined to have their child the natural way, without doctors or hospitals. "Crazy" black guy Bodhi (Glynn Turman) amuses himself freaking out the squares, but he and Granny Rose find they have more in common than either would have imagined. And desperate parents Ray and Cora Chandler (Howard Duff, Kim Hunter) are reduced to begging the ever-expanding crowd of music lovers for help finding their daughter, Susan, who will die if she doesn't resume regular dialysis treatments. They've already lost a son -- presumably in Vietnam -- and the thought of losing their daughter as well is too much to bear. By the time the Olsons take the Chandlers in, Mike has a pretty good idea that Kathy is actually Susan, but he's torn between saving her life and violating her determination to live -- and die -- on her own terms. For all the dated slang and pedantic discussions of squares and flower children, the movie builds to a surprisingly moving climax: Annie goes into labor as the soncert is about to begin, and when push comes to shove, militantly anti-bourgeois J.J. bows to the collective wisdom of women.