The Flamingo Kid (1984) Poster

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The life of a cabana boy
bkoganbing13 August 2016
Garry Marshall certainly had a feel for the mood and atmosphere of New York in the Kennedy years in directing The Flamingo Kid. I knew someone who practically lived at the Brighton Beach Baths in Brooklyn growing up and who played a mean competitive paddle tennis.

Matt Dillon is our hero protagonist at the Long Island summer beach club where the boys live for the tips. But the guests here tip like Frank Sinatra, in fact some of them are paying their way through college. They're rich and like to thrown their money around. Just have your hand out and catch as a cabana boy.

Dillon is a working class kid with parents Hector Elizondo and Jessica Walter and dad's a working guy all his life and like every other parent hopes his kid will do better than being a plumber. Funny thing is that plumbers do very well and the work is steady.

But Dillon falls under the influence of charismatic car dealer Richard Crenna who eschews the value of education. He's Donald Trump with a little more polish. He also has a nice side income in some high stakes gin rummy games with some regulars at the cabana.

Essentially Dillon has to make a choice and get an education or go to work as Crenna's dealership. For all their smoothness it would probably astound Crenna at how much he does not know, but he probably wouldn't care.

Let's say Crenna is not quite the hero Dillon first thinks he is. Matt does a lot of growing up at that cabana that summer.

The Flamingo Kid is an acting duel between Dillon and Crenna. Dillon strikes a lot of emotions as the tough kid from Brooklyn who makes the right moves in the end. Crenna does one of the best performances in his career as a charming, but sneaky and potentially dangerous if the conflict was more than a gin rummy game.

Garry Marshall gives us a winner with The Flamingo Kid.
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OK coming-of-age movie
SnoopyStyle23 February 2015
It's the summer of 63 in Brooklyn. Hawk Ganz (Fisher Stevens) and Steve Dawkins (Brian McNamara) return to the old neighborhood and invite Jeffrey Willis (Matt Dillon) to the Flamingo Club to play cards. Car dealer Phil Brody (Richard Crenna) is the best gin player in the club and father of Steve's girlfriend Joyce. Jeffrey is taken with Joyce's cousin Carla Samson (Janet Jones) from California which drives Alfred (Bronson Pinchot) jealous. He gets a job parking cars at the club. His father Arthur (Hector Elizondo) expected him to work an office job at an engineering firm for the summer. He befriends fellow newbie Fortune Smith. Jeffrey idolizes the successful Phil Brody who takes him under his wing. His wife Phyllis (Jessica Walter) isn't so keen with the lowly help when Carla invites him for dinner. This is no jab at Matt Dillon because he does this character well. I simply don't like this character. To be fair, I don't like any of the characters in this Garry Marshall movie. It's missing the usual Marshall comedic touch. There is a real good father son conflict. I could invest more into their relationship if I could feel more love than anger in the family. The few jokes fall flat for me. It's an OK coming-of-age movie.
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A really sweet, amusing, and delightful comedy sleeper
Woodyanders30 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
1963. Naive, earnest, and affable working class 18-year-old lad Jeffrey Willis (an excellent and engaging performance by Matt Dillon) gets a summer job working as a cabana boy at the posh El Flamingo Beach Club in Long Island. Will the amiable charisma and affluent lifestyle of slick car dealership owner and ace gin rummy cardsharp Phil Brody (marvelously played to smarmy perfection by Richard Crenna) as well as the allure of the enticing Carla Samson (flawlessly embodied by the delectable Janet Jones) cause Jeffrey to forget his humble blue collar Brooklyn roots and aspirations to attend college once summer is over? Director Gary Marshall, who also co-wrote the sweet and witty script with Neal Marshall, relates the enjoyable and engrossing story at a steady pace, offers a vivid and affectionate depiction of the nifty 60's period setting, maintains an ingratiatingly easy'n'breezy tone throughout, and delivers the usual life lessons about integrity and staying true to one's actual self in a pleasant and likable matter. The adroit acting by the sturdy cast helps a whole lot: Dillon astutely nails the morally conflicted nature of his character, Crenna shines as a smooth sleazeball, Hector Elizondo likewise does first-rate work as Jeffrey's proud, honest, and hard-working father Arthur, Jessica Walter brings genuine snap and bite to her juicy role as Brody's snippy fed-up wife Phyllis, Carole Davis makes the most out of a rather minor part as Brody's snobby and sexy vamp daughter Joyce, and Fisher Stevens has a ball as Jeffrey's fast-talking smartaleck buddy Hawk. The bouncy soundtrack of choice 60's golden oldies keeps things bubbling along. Popping up in neat bits are Bronson Pinchot, Marisa Tomei, Steve Weber, and John Turturro. James A. Conter's sunny cinematography gives the picture an attractive sparkling look. A real treat.
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bevo-1367830 March 2020
Well worth a look for those who are interested in gin rummy
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Sweet Ginger Brown!
Uriah4311 April 2019
Having just graduated from high school in Brooklyn, "Jeffrey Willis" (Matt Dillon) has a summer job lined up by his father "Arthur Willis" (Hector Elizondo) which doesn't excite him very much. This all changes one day when he happens to go with some friends to a popular beach club in Long Island known as "The Flamingo". While there he meets an attractive young lady named "Carla Samson" (Janet Jones) and is also offered a job parking cars. Needless to say, he jumps at the opportunity even though he knows it will disappoint his father greatly. However, things become even more volatile between them after he is convinced by a member of the club-who is also the gin rummy champion-named "Phil Brody" (Richard Crenna) to disregard his father's efforts to get him into Columbia University in favor of becoming a car salesman. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that this was a cute film which combines some decent acting with a little romance and a bit of humor here and there. To be sure, it's not a great comedy by any means but it entertains for the most part and for that reason I have rated it accordingly. Slightly above average.
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Matt Dillon's summer as a cabana boy at a private beach club on Long Island
Wuchakk13 March 2014
Released in 1984, "The Flamingo Kid" is a coming-of-age beach flick. What occasionally draws me to these types of films is their youthful energy and fun spirit, as well as the oceanic locations and the women. It brings one back in time to the carefree era of his/her coming-of-age years. Thankfully, "The Flamingo Kid" shoots for something deeper than just a shallow beach flick, which the best ones do, e.g. the original "Gidget" (1959).

The story takes place in 1963 where 18-year-old Jeffrey (Matt Dillon), a plumber's son from Brooklyn, gets a summer job at a private beach club on Long Island called the El Flamingo. This was his final summer of carefree fun before going off to college, but his experiences at the club change his plans. He makes loads of money on tips, meets a beautiful blonde and becomes fascinated by a new mentor, a fast-talking businessman and card shark, Phil Brody (Richard Crenna).

Brody convinces Jeffrey that there are easier, faster (i.e. dishonest) ways to make loads of money than going off to college for years on end. When Jeffry cancels his college plans and moves out of his house it naturally creates friction with his father (Hector Elizondo). Will he go on to become the next generation's fast-talking businessman/card shark?

Almost the entire film was shot on location at a Queens' beach club with loads of gorgeous females on hand, including Jeffrey's girlfriend in the story, Carla played by Janet Jones, whose body is so well sculptured she could've been Wonder Woman (the movie even jokes about this). Carole Davis also shines as Brody's brunette daughter, Joyce, a low-key part. Cutie Marisa Tomei even has a cameo.

The bottom line is that "The Flamingo Kid" offers everything you'd want in such a film and more, including an interesting story where you care about the outcome. And, thankfully, there's NO RAUNCH (well, maybe a flash). In addition, the soundtrack includes numerous early 60's hits like "Runaround Sue," etc. What's not to like?

The film runs 1 hour, 40 minutes.

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Entertaining Comedy!
Sylviastel6 August 2011
A great cast but the storyline is about a kid coming of age during a summer stint as a valet/cabana boy at a Long Island Beach Club. Matt Dillon does a fine job in this role as a lead. He holds his own against heavyweights like Richard Crenna and Hector Elizondo. There is Jessica Walter who played bored Mrs. Brody. The cast also featured Martha Gehman as the sister, Nikki, to Dillon's Jeffrey Willis in the role. While Jeffrey's father, Arthur, is not too happy that his son is working at the club, he deals with it and Mr. Brody's influence over him. Arthur Willis is a hard working plumber who lives with his family in a Brooklyn apartment and not a spacious mansion in Long Island like the club's crowd. I also recall seeing Fisher Stevens and Brian McNamara play his friends and Bronson Pinchot in a small role as well. It's a fine film with some comedic moments but not too many and a predictable ending.
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A summer of fun and learning
SimonJack9 September 2019
"The Flamingo Kid" is a coming of age film that covers a single summer of Jeffrey Willis. In his job at an exclusive Long Island beach club the summer after his high school graduation, Willis sees a lifestyle that he would like to have. Taken under wing by one of the club members, Phil Brody, he sets his sights on money, getting ahead fast and success. That is as opposed to going to college and studying liberal arts among his subjects.

So, Jeffrey has a falling out with his dad over his choice. Arthur Willis is a plumber who provides well for his family. They live in Brooklyn and he has saved money for his son and daughter to have higher educations.

Jeffrey has a romance with Joyce Brody, niece of Phil and daughter of Phyllis Brody who doesn't have the same attitude as the rest of her family about mingling with club employees. The obvious translation is with anyone not of their higher class.

Something happens at the end of summer that opens Jeffrey's eyes and brings him down to earth and reality.

The cast are all good in their roles. Matt Dillon is Jeffrey, Hector Elizonda is his dad, Richard Crenna plays Phil Brody, Carole Davis is Joyce Brody, and Jessica Walter plays Phyllis. Several other actors have fine supporting roles, including some of the card-playing members of the club, and several parking attendants, cabana boys and others.

The film has a nice moral to it, and a look at class distinctions of the time and place. It also has some funny lines and poignant bits of dialog. Here are some favorite lines from the film.

Phil Brody, "I hate aspic." Phyllis Brody, "Oh, Phil, Lizzy worked all day on this dish. I read it to her from the New York Time." Phil, "I don't want anything on my plate that moves, hmmm! Right, Jeffrey?"

Phil Brody, "You ever hit by a bug going 180 miles an hour? Believe me, it's not a thrill. For you or the bug."

Phil Brody, "The point I'm making is the salesmen of the world make the money. Remember that."

Phil Brody, "See, Jeffrey my boy, God put certain people on the earth to give you money. And your responsibility in life is to go out there and take it."

Phil Brody, speaking of his father being discouraged one time, "And he sat there, and he looked at me. Do you know what he said to me? 'Phil, how many pounds of potatoes will I eat before I die?'"

Jeffrey Willis, "Dad, did you have potatoes tonight?" Arthur Willis, "Oh, yeah, boiled." Jeffrey, "How many potatoes do you think you'll eat before you die?"

Jeffrey Willis, "He says what he sees in me spells salesman." Arthur Willis, "What I see of you spells crap."

Jeffrey Willis, "Listen, pal, I'll have you know that I know jujitsu, karate, judo, and some other big words. So don't mess with me, all right?"

Arthur Willis, "I remember my father telling me there are two important things in life. He said, finding out what you do well, and finding out what makes you happy. And if God is smiling on you, they're both the same thing."
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tfrizzell3 July 2002
Likeable little film has Matt Dillon and some of his friends trying to make some extra money for college by working at a high-class country club. Dillon likes the way life is there to father Hector Elizondo's dismay. Involvement with a car salesman who has a knack for poker (Richard Crenna) engrosses Dillon even more, but soon he learns that all is not as squeaky clean as it appears on the surface. A good screenplay and subtle direction by Garry Marshall help out this movie immensely. All the actors work well together. Watch for a then-unknown Marisa Tomei during one of the country club sequences. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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The Flamingo Kid
Coxer9913 May 1999
Charming comedy from Garry Marshall starring Dillon as a Brooklyn teenager taken aback by the smooth lifestyles at a posh beach club. At the club he meets swift characters like car dealer Richard Crenna, in a wonderful role and the lovely Janet Jones, before the Gretzky. Hector Elizondo is also stand out as Dillon's father. Marshall also wrote the script for the film and it flows with heart and humor all the way through.
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This holds up well.
gazzo-210 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I always enjoy seeing something set in 1963 too; last year of that '50s era before everything kinda went to the 60's everyone knows and cringes at. Very well made, fine acting, Dillon, Crenna, Walter and Elizondo especially all at the top of their games.

Watch out for the scene where Elizondo encounters Crenna for the first time and sez: 'I already know who you are' more or less to Crenna. He can tell this is the type that would screw his friends at card games or in anything just to get ahead.

They don't beat you over the head with the 'coming of age life-lessons', but they are believably done and the movie does sink in as you watch it.

No surprise that Janet Jones greatest fame was as Gretzky's wife--now BETTING wife(!) at that---not as an actress. She's just kinda flat. Very easy on the eyes certainly but....Baywatch gal level you know? Check it out, the DVD doesn't have any extras but the story itself is well worth watching. Fun cameos by Steven Weber (Wings) and Marisa Tomei(Cousin Vinny) etc. too.

*** outta ****
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Peach-26 December 1998
The Flamingo Kid is a great coming of age film. I have viewed this film a lot and it gets better every time. Garry Mashall does a terrific job with the material and Matt Dillon holds it all together. Great movie.
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overlooked Garry Marshall comic gem
goya-430 September 2000
Matt Dillon stars as a Brooklyn kid who gets a job at a summer club as a cabana boy where he learns about life in this coming of age comedy directed by Garry Marshall..along the way he meets a stunning beauty (Janet Jones, angelic in her screen debut) and he begins to fall for the good life and forgets about the true value of life, work and family.

A good cast and great music make this a very good movie..on a scale of one to ten.. 7
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renfield5424 April 1999
This is a wonderfully entertaining story chock full of lessons in life. The lessons, are pretty universal and most have to be learned the hard way. The "kid", played by Matt Dillon, enters the world of the well-to-do, more well to do than him anyway. He is from a blue-collar neighborhood in 1963 Brooklyn. His entry??? Employment at the "El Flamingo", an upper-middle class beach club. Richard Crenna, wonderful as the slick, gin rummy playing member, befriends the kid. The lessons of the world revolve around the "big" gin rummy game. Lots of laughs, lots of fun, and Janet Jones make this movie a must see. I've seen it dozens of times myself, and will probably watch it dozens more.

One more thing. A special mention to Jessica Walter. She gave one of the most believe-able performances I've ever seen. I HATED HER.
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Stands the Test of Time
missygoldstein9 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was so great when it came out and is still great. I just watched it again 20 years later! Wow, has it been that long???? Charming story of a very bright young man Jeffrey Willis who has a bright future as an engineer. His father, a plumber wants to see his son become a success and wants him to stay on this path, but the summer before Jeffrey is to go off to college rather than working in an office he gets a job as first a parking lot attendant, and then quickly promoted to cabana boy at a fancy long island beach club. He is so enamoured with the lifestyle of these rich folks and especially impressed by Phil Brody, who made his fortune in luxury cars and feels he's found a new mentor.

Despite the fact that he is merely the cabana boy he really feels this is the life he wants to live. He looks at his Brooklyn roots and feels somewhat ashamed, and wants this life of luxury to start right now. Mr. Brody is also impressed by Jeffrey who is very smart, and a go getter. He shows Jeffrey "the ropes" and a new way of life. He even offers him a job as a salesman at one of his shops. Jeffrey is all ready to say F college! He now wants to be like his hero, Phil Brody, who also is the reigning king of the gin games at the club.

The movie is so old, but I won't spoil for you how it ends except to say that his illusions are pretty much shattered.

Great film. Great performance by a very young, very cute Matt Dillon.
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Best movie I was ever in!
mastrait9 August 2001
Actually, one of the few. It was a really enjoyable film, full of positive energy, and lots of great actors. The plot is fun, and unique, I just wish I had been on screen a bit more. This is a great movie to own. grin
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Pure Delight and thensome.....
blackjack432001-114 April 2020
Back in the day when it was fashionable to join swim clubs , usually located some distance away from where you lived, little thought was ever given to those who worked there... This movie combines the life and times of when these clubs were around, the separation of those who belonged , those who wished they did and the boys and girls who made it all possible , by working at these clubs as a summer job...
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Delightful, some great dialogue too
wdemurjian24 November 2001
This Matt Dillon vehicle serves as the light-hearted equivalent to "A Bronx Tale." Richard Crenna plays the Chazz Palmentieri role as the idolized kingpin and Hector Elizondo plays the Robert DeNiro role of the honorable working class father. There is some memorable dialogue, cute humor, and distinctive card playing (the upside down fan). But, best of all, are the coming of age lessons that are taught to Dillon's character about values, hard work, and summer romance. In the latter category, the movie is aided immensely by the refreshing debut of Janet Jones (now best known as Mrs. Wayne Gretsky). I recommend this without reservation!
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A coming of age film full of charm and nostalgia
timberlinetoast22 July 2019
It's wonderful to see a film that captures your imagination and whisks you away to a different time in your life. In my eyes, the Flamingo Kid is one of those films. Whatever it lacks in overall polish, it more than makes up for in its charm.

The films main character is Jeffrey, a Brooklyn native who's just graduated high school and dreams of being somewhere else. On a chance encounter, he winds up being invited to a fancy beach resort in Long Island, where he's immediately captivated by their lifestyle. He finds a way in, but slowly becomes so hypnotized that he can't see what's happening and his family life begins to deteriorate. Jeffrey eventually has to decide what's really important and whether this new life is real or just a dream.

Great performances by the entire cast. The soundtrack is wonderful, perfect for a magical, 1963 summertime. The directing is competent and flows very well. If you've ever had summers in your youth that you wish would last forever, this is the film that will bring back those fond memories.
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Dillon: Young and still very good
wmcduffe23 March 2001
I thought this movie was very good. The cast is excellent. I loved Dillon, Elizondo and Crenna. They had great chemistry together. Janet Jones was nice too look at, but as far as acting goes, she didn't do it for me. The story was very good and kept me interested.

On a whole I rate the movie a 8.
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Worth owning
torr5922 October 2004
Good movie, worth owning, part for the time it represents, and part because of all the good acting (understated and funny). Richard Crenna plays a great pompous jerk (are we sure he's acting?) Hector Elizondo plays one of his best parts ever as the DAD ("Now he knows Kings!"), and Gretzky's wife even does a half decent job. Fisher Stevens and Bronson Pinchot play good supporting roles as well. Matt Dillon does a great job as a kid who's enamored with Crenna's BS. (One actress who is hot as hell is Carole Davis, who plays Crenna's daughter, and who I am almost positive was a Penthouse Pet at one time. She was also in "Mannequin" and "Shrimp on the Barbie". Hotter than Gretzky's wife).......Anyway, good lines, good script, good ending, good movie.
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More subtle, closer to reality than most "teen growing up" films
jbucar-2940226 July 2020
I'm surprised that those reviews that admired the film did not give particular kudos to the scene between Dillon (son) and Elizondo (plain-spoken father) toward the end of the movie where they get tangled up in a hilarious series of metaphors that leave them both exasperated. It is a unique comic moment played splendidly. I'd watch the film again just for that thirty seconds.
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80's gem, genius writing and casting
bkerwood12 October 2021
Genuinely funny snap shot of the 60's, and one of my favorite 80's movies. Gary Marshall did with this movie what he did with the Happy Days first season. He entertained with interesting quirky characters, and essentially told a story about nothing but ordinary people. Great cast who truly shine with all the tongue in cheek humor. Still in my top 10 of 80's movies after over 35 years.
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Classic movie. One of the best comedies ever!
olbucky25 February 2002
Great movie. Hopefully it will be made available on DVD soon. Matt Dillon was great as well as Richard Crenna. The characters are amazingly mundane, yet still hilarious. There are so many great lines to be taken from this movie. See it again and again and you will be quoting it for years.
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