I'm 51, so a little too young to have connected with the turbulent part of the 1960s. (During the Summer of Love, I was playing with my Tinker Toys and electric train set and had never heard of The Beatles.)
This is my take on the film. I don't believe this movie is intended to be "about the '60s." It is not supposed to "capture" that decade. It is, however, a reflection of one man's experience with the '60s. It was written by Steven Tesich, himself a Yugoslavian immigrant, so the character of Danilo probably reflects Mr. Tesich's feelings about America in the 1960s.
He is in love with America from the moment he arrives. He has an almost romantic view of America...the land of freedom and opportunity. Watch the movie again and notice how many shots have an American flag in them. There is even red, white and blue bunting at the Yugoslavian picnic. This character loves America.
He also loves Georgia...young, free, exciting. She is a metaphor for America. Hell, her name is an actual state!...Georgia! It has been suggested on this board that, in the film, she is an unsympathetic characater and a little too wild and kooky for this down-home immigrant boy with Old World values. Yes, that is the point.
Just like America in 1961 (still a relatively new country...not even 200 years old yet), Georgia is young and free and going through some growing pains. America in the 1960s was going through a turbulent time, too. Danilo sees this in Georgia (and in his beloved America), and he doesn't like it. He is horrified. See the look on his face when a burning American flag is dragged across his windshield. See the dirty street hippy drink his coffee and walk away. I'm sure he is thinking, "This is not the America I signed up for."
Danilo TRIES to get with the program. He attempts to embrace the youth protest movement of the day and lead a demonstration at the school job fair. But his heart is not really in it. He's just going through the motions to impress Georgia. For a time, Danilo even rejects America (and Georgia) and embraces his heritage, settling down with a nice Yugoslavian girl. But he always comes back to Georgia. Try as he might, he loves America/Georgia, warts and all.
That, I think, is why some people don't like this film. The standard, go-to reaction to the '60s era that we think we're supposed to have is, "Right on, man...change! Power to the Flower children! Peace, Love and Drugs." But the character of Danilo does not embrace that sentiment. He wants the good, old-fashioned America that was the apple pie of his eye as a young boy. Through his eyes, the Youth Movement is not portrayed here in a flattering way, and I think, for that reason, many people who came of age in that era cannot get behind this film.
So back to my original point, I don't think this film is supposed to capture or document the turbulent 1960s in an historical or accurate fashion. It is, instead, one man's reflection on the 1960s and how he reacted to it.
But remember, this film is not a criticism of 1960s America. Danilo still loves his adopted country, and he still loves Georgia. He just wishes they would both hurry and grow up.