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With the help of a talking freeway billboard, a wacky weatherman tries to win the heart of an English newspaper reporter, who is struggling to make sense of the strange world of early 1990s Los Angeles.
Richard E. Grant
Beverly Hills couple Barbara and Dave Whiteman are very rich but not happy Dave is a hard working business man, his wife is only interested in yoga, aerobics and other meditation classes, and he sleeps with the house maid. Their teenage son is confused about his sexuality and their daughter is suffering from eating disorders. While they are celebrating thanksgiving having plenty of food, street tramp Jerry is hungry, homeless, sleeping rough and has lost his dog. Jerry decides to end his life by drowning himself in their swimming pool. Dave rescues him and invites him to stay for a while. How does this stranger change the life style of this family? Written by
Sami Al-Taher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The credits open on scenes showing sites featured in Beverly Hills The end credits scroll on the alleyway outside the Whiteman's home, during which a bum pushing a trolley walks by, pauses to check on the Whiteman's dumpster, then continues on his way. See more »
Great acting and casting provide plenty of laughs.
Sure it hasn't dated all that well, but look at this 1986 hit as a nice time capsule of L.A. from that time period. A period that basically ended with the sobering and terrifying riots of 1992. Down and Out in Beverly Hills deals with a well-to-do yet dysfunctional family having its priorities rearranged by a bum who first attempts to drown himself in their swimming pool. Nick Nolte, looking only a little scruffier than his 2002 Hawai'ian shirt mugshot plays the Jerry Baskin character on different levels. Early on he seems much like the typical run of the mill schizophrenic homeless person chasing after a dog who found himself a better owner. Then, after his dunk in the pool, we see that he is actually quite intelligent and observant. Almost instantly he sees what is wrong with everyone in the household. He just can't seem to point any of that intellect toward improving his own situation. Even when it is laying there right in front of him.
The patriarch of the family is Dave Whiteman who embodies some of Richard Dreyfuss's better work. He is very successful, yet he it just too uptight. Something seems lacking for him. It isn't the appearance of the bum that sets him off. He actually is the one who most wants him to stay if perhaps to live vicariously through him in some ways. Bette Middler is on hand as Dave's sexually unfulfilled wife who mostly spends her time with worthless self-help gurus. She even has one hired for their cutesy little dog. Nolte is apparently the only man around who has what it takes to recharge her batteries in bed! The family has an attractive yet obviously anorexic daughter and an androgynous son. A sexpot Hispanic maid is also on hand for Dave to use at his will... that is until Nolte moves in on her as well. The film takes place over about a month's time and there really isn't much plot to speak of other than seeing how these characters are altered by Nolte's character.
The film has several funny moments, and thankfully Ms. Middler is not allowed to sing too much. The theme song by the Talking Heads is always welcome to the human ear. Some of the comedy, mostly involving the cutesy dog reactions and Little Richard's exasperated yelling are more annoying than anything else. There are some great performances and many funny observations about successful Angelinos at that time. Not much of a message to be learned from any of it, however. Maybe that is why it works. 8 of 10 stars.
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