Vivian's family are penniless nomads, moving from one cheap flat to another in Beverly Hills so she and her brothers can attend the city's schools. Uncle Mickey sends them money to survive. When Mickey's daughter Rita runs away from an asylum, Vivian's dad offers shelter to her if Mickey will pay for a plush flat. Vivian must babysit her adult cousin, making sure she gets to nursing school and avoids pills and booze. But Vivian has her own problems: she's curious about sex, likes an older neighbor kid, has inherited her mother's ample breasts, and wants a family that doesn't embarrass her. Can she help Rita, keep Uncle Mickey happy, and feel OK about her body and her family? Written by
"Slums" is one of the more underrated films of the 1990s. It seems to rub some people the wrong way for unclear reasons, but I found it to be touching and hilarious from start to finish. Perhaps I'm just a sucker for Alan Arkin, whom I've always liked, and see on screen all to infrequently. More likely I was impressed by the witty script, deft direction and solid cast. I especially appreciated the spot-on portrayal of Southern California during the mid-70s, which just happens to be the era when I migrated from "back East" to Los Angeles. Fortunately, we weren't as hapless as the Abramowitz family, who throughout this film are trying desperately to hang onto the ragged edge of the good life.
This is one "coming of age" story that you don't need to be a teenage girl to enjoy.
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