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78 out of 93 people found the following review useful:

Adolescence Goes Out with a Bang!!!

10/10
Author: dataconflossmoor from United States
19 August 2002

Seldom does a film capture fond memories with a lovable ADULT!! immaturity...You will never find a more sensational cast, Steve Guttenberg, Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser, Tim Daly, Daniel Stern, Ellen Barkin, and Micheal Tucker!!!....This film has an astute portrayal of meaningless conversation being the key focal point for everyone and everything...The platonic bond in this film leaves room for immeasurable tolerance particularly on account of dedicated human affection and evokes an epitome of the pleasant camaraderie pertinent to the 1950's.. Friends are not friends by just saying nice things to each other, rather because they have shared their adolescent lives with one another, and the realization of adulthood sparks an indispensable fondness all of the major characters in the film mutually share!! At a glance, someone may perceive this film to be a movie version of "Happy Days"...but the intense and poignant performances of all the characters in the film (particularly Steve Guttenberg's) makes anyone who sees this movie wonder if maybe it would have been nice to live in Baltimore in 1959!!!

Usually, there is a pejorative interpretation of the term "IMMATURE", but in this film, it establishes a social cohesiveness that reflects the enviable naivety of the times!!!...Everybody recognizes everyone else's preventable flaws...The proverbial friendship safety net which perennially prevails throughout this entire film, makes them feel very fortunate because they know that their lives are not perfect!!!..Their precociousness resonates itself to a bittersweet comedy, and is advocated as such, since comedy is limitless, because so too is human error...Evaluating the actors in the movie, it is simply incredible!! Steve Guttenberg is Police Academy King!! Tim Daley in the hit show "Wings" He seemed to understand that role perfectly!! Kevin Bacon, the eighties icon including "Footloose" Daniel Stern, the director and voice in "Wonder Years" Mickey Rourke "9 1/2 Weeks" Every male between the ages of 42 and 50 is insanely jealous!! Ellen Barkin "The Big Easy" and a host of others!! and of course, Paul Reiser "Mad About You"...Acting talent of this copious quantity exudes a plethora of non disputable top notch Hollywood entertainment!! All of the actors in this film established a compilation of feelings that were genuine, for better or for worse (pun intended!!).. Memories were safeguarded to make the recognizable distinction between friends and acquaintances!! Life was irksome at times, but they always sought respite!! The boys/men knew they could attain refuge and solace at the Diner!! Be it from eating French Fries with gravy, expounding about first experiences, bickering over nothing whatsoever, and most significantly, thoroughly and completely understanding each other!!! No matter what happens they will always have the Diner!!

How many films put a realistically humorous spin on adversity!! How many films provide a humanistic heartfelt laughter about everything!! More importantly!! What films make you realize truly that people make all the difference in your life!! Diner was indeed such a film!! All of the actors in this movie have had tremendous careers, and this movie is testimony as to why!! When evaluating your life, you realize how trite imperfections are the only valid means of appreciating your precarious endeavors, and your concise perception of what adolescence transitioning into adulthood truly signifies!! It is a wonderful experience when a film far exceeds your expectations and puts an acute awareness on what matters in your life!! With the Rolls Royce of directors/writers Barry Levinson, (Natural, Rain Man & Good Morning Vietnam, to name but a few!!) and an absolutely fabulous cast, (if a director ever wants a young cast with a cop esthetically emerging potential like this one ever again, he will have to get it from the guy with the red horns!!!) this film is one of the finest!!!! Top 20 in my book and top 30 for comedies according to the critics of AFI!!!!

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28 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Coming of Age in Fifties Baltimore

8/10
Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England
7 December 2004

Recent films set in the 1950s, such as 'Pleasantville', 'Far from Heaven' and 'Mona Lisa Smile' have tended to portray the decade as being a repressed, overly conservative period. A generation ago, however, the tendency was to take a more sympathetic, nostalgic look at the fifties in films such as 'Grease' or television programmes such as 'Happy Days'. The post-Vietnam generation seemed to look back at the period immediately before that war as a lost age of innocence.

'Diner' follows a group of young men from Baltimore, former school friends now in their early twenties, over a week of their lives, that between Christmas Eve and New Year, 1959. Some of them are still living and working in the town, others are now at college, but are using the Christmas vacation as a chance to get back together with old friends. The title is taken from the diner that is their favourite meeting-place. There is no real coherent plot; the film is very episodic in structure and concentrates on character rather than on action.

As is perhaps inevitable with young men of this age, many of their preoccupations are with girls and relationships. One of them, Shrevie, is married, but seems to be discontented with married life. Another, Eddie, is engaged. A third, Billy, discovers during the course of the film that he has got his girlfriend pregnant, but when he offers to do the decent thing by her, he is disconcerted to realize that she would much rather he did the indecent one. A fourth, Boogie, seems to lead a carefree life, flitting from one romance to another. The characters are not, however, preoccupied with love and sex to the exclusion of all else. We also learn about their other private obsessions with such matters as music, sport and the cinema. Shrevie quarrels with his wife because she does not share his passion for popular music and fails to understand his complex system for cataloguing his extensive record collection. (I wonder if this scene was the origin of a similarly obsessive character in 'High Fidelity'). Eddie's passion for sport is even more all-consuming than Shrevie's for music; he subjects his fiancée Elyse to a football quiz and threatens to break off the engagement if she cannot score a sufficiently high score. A minor character knows off by heart the entire dialogue from the film 'Sweet Smell of Success'.

Many of the young actors who starred in the film have gone on to become famous names in the movie world. From my point of view the best was probably Kevin Bacon as Timothy, the rebel without a cause who has dropped out of his wealthy family and lives an aimless life. (The first time we see him he is smashing windows just for the hell of it). I was, however, also impressed by Daniel Stern as Shrevie and Mickey Rourke as Boogie.

I have never been to Baltimore, but it was clear from watching the film that the director was trying to capture the spirit of a particular place and time. It therefore came as no surprise to discover that Barry Levinson, who both wrote and directed the film, is himself a Baltimore native, although slightly younger than the characters depicted in the film. (He would have been seventeen in 1959). Despite this concentration on the particular, however, 'Diner' has a universal appeal. The film with which it has most in common is 'American Graffiti'. Although that film was actually set in the early sixties rather than the fifties, it nevertheless deals quite openly with the idea of the pre-Vietnam era as a golden age. 'Diner' does not deal with this theme so overtly, but there is still nevertheless a distinct sense of an era coming to an end. It is significantly set in the final week of a decade, and in the wedding scene we see a large banner saying 'Eddie and Elyse- in the sixties and forever', a reminder that change is on the way, both for these young men and for America as a whole.

The most important change that the characters in 'Diner' have to come to terms with is neither social nor political, but rather the challenge of growing up. The traditional 'Coming of Age' film has tended to concentrate on adolescence and the teenage years. For many young men, however, their early twenties, when they are completing or have already completed their education, are setting out on their careers and are starting to think about more serious relationships with women, can be a time of even greater changes than their days in secondary school. All the major characters- except perhaps the serious-minded Billy who is keen to accept new responsibilities- want to hang on to elements of their boyhood even while moving into adulthood.

For Boogie, and, to an even greater degree, Timothy, this means keeping the freedom to be irresponsible. For Shrevie and Eddie, this means trying to keep hold of their youthful passions even after marriage. The discord between Shrevie and his wife (slightly older than him and considerably more mature in outlook) is caused as much by his fear that marriage will mean having to give up his association with his old friends as by her inability to differentiate between jazz and rock-and-roll. Barry Levinson's claim that Elyse's football test was based on a true incident may seem improbable, but there is some psychological truth in this part of the film. It has, after all, been said that every man's ideal woman is himself incarnated in the body of a beautiful girl, and Elyse's willingness to take this test shows that she is prepared to make sacrifices and enter into Eddie's male-oriented world.

'Diner' is a film worth seeing more than once. On my first viewing I found it dull, an inferior copy of 'American Graffiti'. The second time round, I started to appreciate it as a fine film in its own right. Barry Levinson has gone on to make a number of other good films ('The Natural', 'Good Morning Vietnam', 'Rain Man' and 'Sleepers'), but 'Diner', his first film, is perhaps his most personal and heartfelt. 8/10

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31 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Strong dialogue and believable characters taking precedence over stupid action and obnoxious caricatures.

10/10
Author: MovieAddict2014 from UK
25 April 2004

Note: This review has been severely chopped to comply with IMDb's word limit. Full review can be found at wiredonmovies.com

--

"There's not that much of a story, really. What do we do? We drive around. Maybe he's going to get married, maybe not. It's really more about the fact that it's a very honest portrayal of a group...of guys that people relate to on a very personal level."

- Kevin Bacon on the "Diner" DVD interview reel

In the opening scene of Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs," a handful of characters debate the true meaning of Madonna's hit song "Like a Virgin." Long before "Reservoir Dogs" (a decade, to be exact), there was Barry Levinson's directorial debut, "Diner," a coming-of-age tale concerning five Baltimore residents in their 20s who try to get past crucial points in their lives. In a similar scene to that in Tarantino's masterpiece, four friends -- played by Steve Guttenberg, Mickey Rourke, Daniel Stern, and Paul Reiser -- argue over which singer produces better make-out music: Mathis or Sinatra? "Presley," says Rourke's character, ending the conversation with blunt confidence. And that's that.

The movie has plentiful rich dialogue, some of it seemingly pointless, most of it subtly touching and meaningful. The film has a lot to say about the difference between friendship and true love. "I love you," one of the characters tells the woman he wants to marry. Fixated on an object behind him, her eyes cold and a grim reflection of deep contemplation, she replies, "You're confusing a friendship with a woman, and love. It's not the same." In a very different sort of way, it tackles the same material as "When Harry Met Sally," but it doesn't stop there.

The film is masterful in its ability to present us with a group of people we sincerely care for, and who all seem very real -- more so than the characters you'll find in most movies. The dialogue was primarily improvised, especially by Paul Reiser, whose debates with fellow pals are the highlights of the film. Even after the truly poignant ending there is a discussion about evolution that plays over the credits. "Did you hear about this evolution stuff?" Reiser asks. He starts to mock the theories which would later become widely considered as truth by scientists, despite lack of actual evidence supporting the theory. Amusing, how the movie has so much to say about so many different things.

"Diner" is a film that connects with us because we can all sympathize with its characters and their inner motivations. Eddie (Guttenberg) is afraid of getting married; Schrezie (Stern) is married and wishes he wasn't; Boogie (Rourke) would like to finally find a girl he could respect; Bill (Timothy Daly) wants to get married to the girl he loves but she doesn't want to. The whole movie appears to be focused on girls, and indeed most of it is, yet there's a lot of other stuff that's even deeper. Fenwick (Bacon) is what Bacon himself described as a "permanently drunk," sick kid who doesn't know what he wants out of life, thrown out of his family and wandering the streets looking for a meaning to his life. He's the character who is so lost he doesn't even seem to care very much about girls.

Prior to "Diner," Levinson was a nobody -- and perhaps that is why his first project is that most in tune with its characters and their natures. The movie was very risky when the studio released it in 1982 -- there was talk of shelving the finished product for fear of losing money. Reluctant, MGM finally released the movie into theaters, but with poor advertising -- it tanked. Yet it received some of the greatest reviews of the year. In an effort to convince MGM, Levinson showed a screening of the movie to critic Pauline Kael, who gave it an exceptional review, as did the majority of critics at that time. On the surface, "Diner" seems rather boring -- it's just a movie about nothing, really, except growing up. Yet it captured the hearts of many, becoming a cult sleeper that still entices new fans to this very day.

It's a film of many integrating mixed genres, each one carefully balanced and perfectly maintained throughout. "Diner" has some of the best dialogue of all time, not to mention a handful of Oscar-worthy performances. This is not Levinson's best but it's one of his most deeply touching projects. It has a lot to say about many things and it actually gets around to addressing them -- which is rare to find in any movie. This is a true gem.

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18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

"There's not that much of a story, really. What do we do? We drive around..." Kevin Bacon

9/10
Author: Galina from Virginia, USA
17 September 2008

Diner, Barry Levinson's writing and directing debut belongs to so-called "small" or "minor" movies and it indeed does not have spectacular locations, breathtaking action sequences or even dramatic story. As Kevin Bacon comments in the Behind the Scenes Documentary, "There's not that much of a story, really. What do we do? We drive around..." What the movie has is "a very honest portrayal of a group...of guys that people relate to on a very personal level." The different generations of viewers react to film with devotion and recognition, and Diner has become one of the beloved long time cult favorites. Based on its writer/director's memories of growing up in Baltimore, the film takes place during the week between Christmas and New Year in 1959, and tells of the friendship of five guys in their early twenties. During the course of the film, we will get to know the young men, their fears of growing up, facing responsibilities, and making decisions, their fascination and insecurities with the girls.

From his Oscar-nominated script, BL makes the study of young men who hesitate to grow up but rather hang out in their beloved Diner. Daniel Stern's 'Shrevie' is an owner of LP collection that he seems to value more than his young and pretty wife (Ellen Barkin in her film debut). Mickey Rourke, played his best role (at least, IMO) as Boogy, the cynical womanizer with the most charming smile. Steve Guttenberg's Eddie puts his fiancée through the enormously difficult football quiz and the passing score is the must for the marriage because he is scared to get married. Kevin Bacon plays Fenwick, a permanently drunk and lost kid, the character much darker than the rest of the guys. Timothy Daly is Bill who seems to be the most successful of the bunch, and know what he wants but can't make the girl he loves to love him. By making Diner, Levinson actually put his native city, sleepy and provincial 1959 Baltimore, on the cinema map, and that's just one of movie's pleasures. And there are plenty. Diner is filled with authentic and believable scenes, situations, and conversations that everyone can relate to. The Diner's menu has a lot to offer to the grateful viewers and fans of the insightful, ironic, entertaining, small but bright and shiny gem. Barry Levinson does not flatter six protagonists but he understands them and loves them because he sees in them the indelible part of his own life, his experiences, and his own childhood friends. As another great film about childhood friendship says, "I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?"

Barry Levinson went on to create many good and very good films after Diner. These are just a few: The Natural, Good Morning, Vietnam; Bugsy; Avalon; Sleepers, An Everlasting Piece, Disclosure, Wag the Dog, and his Oscar winner "Rain Man" but Diner will always have a very special place for me. This is the film I keep coming back to again and again, and as the time passes it only gets better.

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19 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

"Just say it! 'I want the roast beef sandwich!'"

8/10
Author: mattymatt4ever from Jersey City, NJ
3 April 2003

"Diner" is a fun-filled, perfectly inspired comedy/drama, which is talented director Barry Levinson's first effort. Needless to say, there's no strong plot structure, but when you have solid, memorable characters like these, that's not necessary. Almost every one of these characters are memorable in their own ways. Nobody "steals the show."

The cast is highly spirited, as I sensed great joy in their performances. The chemistry between the characters is very genuine, and not surprisingly Barry Levinson made sure the actors got well-acquainted with each other before shooting.

I can tell Levinson based many of these scenarios on real-life situations. Scenes like these cannot be developed in the mind of some phony Hollywood hack screenwriter. The nostalgia practically bleeds out the screen, in his solid attention to detail. And that's one of the reasons why this film works. I can actually imagine Levinson sitting back and watching the film with a big smile, chuckling intermittently as he reminisces back to moments from his adolescence. When a director is joyful about his work, that joy transfers to his audience. One of the scenes in which that joy is most evident is when Daniel Stern's character throws a fit about his girlfriend, Ellen Barkin, wrongly categorizing his records and never asking him "what's on the flip side?" Levinson obviously has a passion for the music of his time, and rightfully so, because a lot of great music comes from the 50's. And lucky for me, the film's soundtrack is filled with many of those great tunes.

There are many memorable moments and lines of dialogue. The football quiz is definitely something to be remembered. But my favorite is the famous "roast beef sandwich" argument. Paul Reiser asks Steve Guttenberg if that's a roast beef sandwich he's eating, and Guttenberg can sense he wants a bite from the sandwich, so he yells out, "Just say it! 'I want the roast beef sandwich!'" It's a brilliant, "Seinfeld"-type scene which revolves around a banal subject, but you can't help but be delightfully amused, because let's fact it--the things we relate most to are the simple things in life. Movies about politics can be interesting, but what if you're not a politician or someone who doesn't give a damn about politics? Eating is someone everyone can relate to. Friendship is something everything can relate to. And male bonding is something all men can relate to.

If "Waiting to Exhale" best demonstrates the strength of female bonding, I feel this film best demonstrates the strength of male bonding. I used to feel that women had a stronger bond, since they're more affectionate and in touch with their feelings. But when jealousy enters the equation, even the most long-term friendship between two women can be butchered. I've actually talked to several women who feel more comfortable with male friends, and don't very much trust other women. However, guys stick together. We may badmouth each other left and right and bust each other's chops, but the bond remains the same. Some females may interpret this is as a misogynistic film, because other than Ellen Barkin's character, there are no major or supporting female characters. And Steve Guttenberg's would-be wife is never revealed--at least her face is never shown. But this is simply to stress the theme of male bonding; not to show that women aren't important.

"Diner" is a film for those who enjoy funny, moving, character-driven nostalgia films with fine actors. Hell, even Mickey Rourke, who I'm not a big fan of, gives a fine three-dimensional performance. But everyone in the cast is worth praising in equal doses: Daniel Stern, Paul Reiser (despite his brief screen time), Kevin Bacon, Steve Guttenberg, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin.

My score: 8 (out of 10)

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18 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

A sparkling moment!

10/10
Author: Chris Dowling from Freeport, Maine
7 October 2006

Levinson's, and IMO, many of the actors' best work. Polished dialog that never gets old with repeated viewing. The characters in this film remain permanently blazed in my memory, and the lines are worthy of memorization, as one of the minor characters in the film spouts lines from "Sweet Smell of Success." Brilliant cast at their peak. No matter what each of these actors did later, they, and I, will always have Diner.

The music, cars, clothes of the 50s never seemed more poignantly bittersweet and dreamlike to me, although I did not live through that period. Everyone should see this film. An all time classic, in my book.

All this and zero degrees of Kevin Bacon to boot!

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23 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Incredibly delightful, and Funny

8/10
Author: Lozbee2000 (Lozbee2000@hotmail.com) from Victoria, Australia
17 October 2002



This movie has entered my top 20 list since I seen it for the first time at the start of this month. The only thing I hated about this movie was that the channel I was watching it on had taken out the swear words so I didn't quite get all those jokes.

Apart from that I loved this movie it mostly has males in it but that didn't matter, you could just feel the friendship between these 5 guys. This film was also very funny whether it was the popcorn scene,the football quiz,the jail scene or Methan quoting his favourite film, it's all there.

Out of the five main guys in the film two of them really showed their talent; and they were Mickey Rourke and Daniel Stern. After seeing this film I decided to give it an 8 out of 10 because I think it deserves that rating.

Whoever said that this is a guy flick is terribly mistaken because I am a 15 year old girl and I really enjoyed it.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

An Oscar!! What's That?

10/10
Author: dataconflossmoor-1 from United States
4 February 2010

Who realized that back in 1982, a film like "Diner" would possess such an extraordinary wealth of talent, both on and off the screen. What was emphasized by this film's director, (Barry Levenson) was the impetuousness with which this movie's actors and actresses had to orchestrate. So often, during the film's production, Barry did not even say "ACTION" to commence a scene. So many times, would Levenson omit the word "CUT" for a scene to conclude. All of these non conventional actions by director, Barry Levenson,were for purposes of manufacturing a tertiary spontaneity from the actors in the movie. Such an auspicious lack of inhibition sparked a natural emotional realism that made the film "Diner" truly unique! Many scenes brought on a free spirited innocence that prevailed back in Baltimore in 1959 (The city and the year that this film was suppose to take place). "The Popcorn Scene" with Mickey Rourke was hysterically funny, as it is indicative of the sordid wiles men will engage in to get the attention of a beautiful woman, especially if it for purposes of impressing his close knit buddies!! "The Piano Scene" was one of the best scenes in any movie I have seen whatsoever!! Tim Daly's piano playing was a mandatory form of entertainment to break up the sedentary monotony of an ossified nightclub! The type of character Steve Guttenberg played was one which was very identifiable to me. I saw myself in Steve Guttenburg's character so many times in the movie, but, particularly in the "Piano Scene". I could envision myself dancing recklessly in dare devil fashion while wearing Shetland wool! This was so Steve Guttenberg's character, and, it was so much like something I might do as well!! This film focused on the bittersweet scenario, pertaining to the peculiar viewpoint by some barely adult men, who had a penchant for believing that an individual's sense of humor should be his single most coveted attribute in the world. Such a mindset purveys the ground-rules of survival being a case of how a human being's sense of humor should be endless, because his egregious flaws as an individual are endless as well!! "Diner" accentuated the necessary dichotomy between social cohesiveness and individuality! Ultimately, the film would bridge the gap with precocious candor. This itemization of quirky concepts accomplished a successfully ambiguous cultural dissemination of adolescent ideas with all the main characters of this movie. The incongruity contained in the conversations with everybody became a capriciously acute element to this film which successfully evoked a superbly unprecedented directorial finesse!! "Diner" did not win the academy award for best movie in 1982. When a movie wins an Oscar for best picture during any given year, it is usually a very good film. When a film manifests a fondness for individual expression by establishing a reality on how people truly are by what they find amusing, with that, emanates the real definition of a comedy. If a movie can accomplish such a feat, then this is an undeniably great film. Without question, the film "Diner' is a movie that may be put into this category!! A bevy of talented people partook in this movie. This box office bonanza of stars comprises of; Mickey Rourke, Steve Guttenberg, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin, Daniel Stern, Kevin Bacon, and Paul Reiser. (Reiser's curiosity with the term, nuance, in this movie, later surfaced itself to reality by way of a production company which was entitled "Nuance Productions" that Paul Reiser was part owner of). Given the fact that so many actors, actresses, directors and producers have 30,000 square foot domiciles in Beverly Hills and on Park Avenue, it becomes rather obvious that money is not always a top priority with them. Ultimately, they realize that the purpose for making a movie is to raise the bar on entertainment standards. This encapsulation concerning man's sanguine flippancy about perpetual failure, which this film, "Diner" illustrated, was totally astounding! More specifically put, an integral facet of movie entertainment is predicated on accurately pinpointing what human nature is truly like. Often times, I have thought that if you only want to see two movies in your entire life, those two films should be "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "Diner". Both movies capture a grass roots recognition of what people's attitudes and instinctive reactions really are. I would give the nod to "Diner" over "Glengarry Glen Ross" because "Diner" illustrates a realism which is portrayed with a far more positive disposition! Such a reality gives "Diner" an enthusiastic identifiability. Attaining a stranglehold on the positive elements of human intuition in a movie like "Diner" is a goal that is so crucial to a film! So much so, that if a director does this, but, he does not win an Oscar for his film, his response should be "SO WHAT!!" The movie "Diner" is a one of a kind gem! "Diner" has achieved the ultimate accolade of being a movie which ignites a humanistic gratification to a near perfect state! This film has artistically conquered an elementary objective for making a movie! Such an accomplishment is what film making is all about, to which, I have only one thing to say, "An Oscar!! What's that?"

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Terrific coming of age story that catapulted several actors to stardom

9/10
Author: TheMarquisDeSuave from Worcester, MA
10 May 2008

"Diner" is, as several other reviewers have noted, a thinking man's version of "American Graffiti". Its a more substantial and intelligent coming of age tale than that pop culture favorite. Despite being a huge critical hit when originally released, "Diner" seems to become more and more underrated with each passing year. Thats a shame, because its really a terrifically entertaining and well written film. Sure, there's not much of a plot to be had ultimately, but with characters and dialog this fantastic, thats more than acceptable. The film details a group of college buddies moving onto adulthood during the Christmas season in 1959 in Baltimore. It shows that, despite their aging, many of the characters still have a good amount of emotional maturing to do.

Its odd to see so many big stars in this film and realize they were all relatively unknown. Its no big surprise that they all became major Hollywood plays subsequently on the strength of this film, with many of them continuing to be big stars up to this day (Kevin Bacon, Ellen Barkin) and others unfortunately having their career dwindle (Steve Guttenberg and Mickey Rourke until his recent comeback). All of the actors give possibly their best performances in this film. The dialog about seemingly nothing was a big influence on many 90s productions as well, from Tarantino's films to "Seinfeld". Barry Levinson's direction is very good as well, keeping this at a quick pace. The only minor flaw is Mickey Rourke. Rourke is a great actor and does a good job here, but I disliked his sleazy character, and didn't find him sympathetic like the rest of the protagonists. Still, this is a truly great film. Anyone interested in getting into screen writing really needs to see this. (9/10)

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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

The Thinking Man's American Graffiti

8/10
Author: krorie from Van Buren, Arkansas
29 April 2006

Basically the interaction of five guys and one girl during the Christmas season of 1959-1960 in Balitimore, Maryland, "Diner" is somewhat autobiographical of director/writer Barry Levinson, identified as the character Billy (Tim Daly) in the film. Be sure and listen to the dialog spoken over the ending credits. It cleverly encapsulates the entire film. The movie is noteworthy for making stars of six new faces to the cinema public, Steven Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Timothy Daly, and Ellen Barkin. Had it been created before "American Graffiti," it would have been the definitive coming of age flick. Coming nine years later, it pales in the shadow of that seminal work. Still, "Diner" is a worthwhile piece of cinema and is much more cerebral than "American Graffiti."

There are a few time-line problems. I too was finishing high school and preparing for college during the same time interval. Only I was located in rural America and the protagonists of "Diner" lived in an urban setting. Radio was AM and dominated by the "top forty" play list. Seldom were older rock 'n' roll songs played. Naturally there were no oldies stations yet. Teens basked in the audio heaven of the popular tunes of the day. The "Diner" soundtrack appropriately contains such hits of 1959-60 as "Beyond the Sea," "Theme From a Summer Place," and "Goodbye Baby," but also contains songs that were rarely if ever played on AM radio or on diner juke boxes in 1959-60, such as "It's All In The Game," "Don't Be Cruel," and "Fascination." This all makes for one of the best 50's soundtracks ever, but distracts from the credibility of the film setting.

Teens of the period throughout American had a favorite gathering place or rendezvous. For me it was a local diner called "The Hickory House." Sitting in cars, drinking, and shooting the BS was as popular as actually going inside the diner, though that took place too. "Diner" accurately portrays this aspect of teenage gregariousness. The courting rituals and dating challenges are also true to life for the period. A mediocre film, "A Summer Place" was extremely popular with teens of the period, in particular girls, since it was basically a chick flick. By using it as a backdrop to the story, Levinson enhances the scene with the popcorn box and makes it much more meaningful, especially to those who have watched "A Summer Place." Another aspect of reality used by Levinson in a telling way is the concept of male, female relationships at the time. For example, when Timothy Fenwick (Bacon) starts using vulgar language during the car wreck tomfoolery, the other guys point to Beth (Barkin) and indicate by gesture that there is a lady present. Today, female teens readily use vulgar talk as often as males. Changing times.

"Diner" is one of the best of the teen angst films shot during the 70's and 80's and not to be missed. If the viewer lived through the time passage in the movie, it is all that more enjoyable to see.

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