In an episode parodying the George Lucas film American Graffiti, the Smith Family goes on a coming-of-age story, fitting for the intergalactic story world of the Adult Swim original, for both the father Jerry and the two children Summer and Morty. Similar to previous episodes in this fifth season, the Smith family are exhibiting very public forms of trust and love towards one another through their adventures and missions. While the crass and abrasive comedy still remains, Rick and Morty allows for two stories of high school friendships and adulthood to be flushed out with its two divergent storylines following Jerry and Rick on a guys night and Summer and Morty on a quest to impress and attract the friendship of the new kid in school.
“Amortycan Grickfitti” tackles childhood insecurities of fitting in and meeting socially acceptable standards for the two Smith children. Despite being thrown to the wolves in crazy adventures, Summer and Morty are visualized as outcasts at school and are desperate for a successful attempt at gaining a new friend from the newest kid in school that Morty invited over to hang out. Taking on Lucas’ intention of creating a film that idolized the cruising time in his teenage years, Rick and Morty has Summer and Morty take over Rick’s spaceship to cruise through crazy events throughout the galaxy and space with their newest acquaintance. However, the spaceship takes on sentience and goes through its, or her, own formative years of angst destruction, heartbreak, and humiliation.
Simultaneously, the episode takes viewers on a Rick and Jerry adventure as the two apparently have a guys night with a couple of demons from hell. Unbeknownst to the viewer in the beginning, the guys’ night is a creation of Rick being punished for selling poor skin hooks to the demons and they receive pleasure from the pain caused by listening and spending time with the boring Jerry. For the majority of this season, the marriage between Jerry and Beth has seemingly been smooth sailing with very few bumps in the road along the way. However, this episode serves as another break within Jerry and Beth’s relationship upon Jerry’s realization of the enjoyment his actual family gets in by just having fun at his expense. Although not a healthy exercise of their love and care, Beth and Rick admit that Jerry is the butt of the joke, but demonstrate the love for who he is by going into the fire for him and rescuing him from these demons.
Season five has been tackling familial ideals and connection between the Smith family members through intricate and wholesome interactions. The season has touched some of the more emotionally driven themes that have been revealed in season one’s “Rick Potion no. 9” and “A Rickle in Time.” Yet, this season has not fully connected with the depth of these predecessors. While the episode did demonstrate its success, it was not the strongest installment of how the Smith family views love such as another season five episode like “A Rickconvenient Mort.” It comes off as a lackluster effort particularly with the Beth, Jerry, and Rick subplot while Summer and Morty’s adventure provides fans with some interesting twists and turns – and even a fun epilogue credit scene. It will be interesting to see how these themes will be translated towards newer additions to the series, particularly when they delve back into the canon of the series instead of these one-off episodes.