Eugene, a young teenage Jewish boy, recalls his memoirs of his time as an adolescent youth. He goes through the hardships of puberty, sexual fantasy, and living the life of a poor boy in a crowded house.
Grandmother has nothing to say when Libby tells her that she is off to LA to look up Dad, a Hollywood screenwriter. Grandmother has been in a New York cemetery for six years and Dad has ... See full summary »
Eugene and Stanley Jerome try to break into show biz as comedy writers while their parents' marriage ends. When the boys' material is broadcast on radio, the family hears their private life played for laughs.
Eugene, a young teenage Jewish boy, recalls his memoirs of his time as an adolescent youth. He lives with his parents, his aunt, two cousins, and his brother, Stanley, whom he looks up to and admires. He goes through the hardships of puberty, sexual fantasy, and living the life of a poor boy in a crowded house.Written by
Jason Ihle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I have seen the Golden Palace of the Himalayas. Puberty is over! Onward and upward!
Brighton Beach Memoirs is directed by Gene Saks and adapted to the screen from his own play by Neil Simon. It stars Jonathan Silverman, Blythe Danner, Judith Ivey, Bob Dishy, Stacey Glick, Lisa Waltz and Brian Dillinger. Music is by Michael Small and cinematography by John Bailey.
This is the first of what would become a trilogy of films detailing the adventures and learnings of Neil Simon's life trajectory. His alias in the three productions comes in the guise of Eugene Morris Jerome, here played by Silverman, and by Matthew Broderick in Biloxi Blues (1988) and Corey Parker in Broadway Bound (1992). This is set in 1937 Brooklyn, New York, and finds Eugene, a Polish-Jewish American youngster experiencing sexual awakening in a family home packed to the rafters.
Having never seen a Neil Simon play before I have no frame of reference, either here or with Biloxi Blues, the latter of which is a personal favourite. So taking it on its filmic terms only, it delivers much of the requisite razor sharp humour that was a trait of the hugely talented writer. The young version of Eugene here has sporting dreams as well as that of being a professional writer, his literary bent evident in his vocal discourse with his family and us on the fourth wall. He's the family gofer, a slave to his adoring but firm handed mother, as if battling the on-set of puberty wasn't taxing enough!
Though primarily humourous in narrative drive, the serious side of family values is always a strong current within. Gambling addiction also features, so to does vivid sibling rivalry later in life, while the dangling thread of Polish family members trying to exit their homeland for a better life in New York strikes a poignant chord. I can't vouch for accents or adherence to natural race standards, but the sense of the period and areas (real location filming of course) is impressive - the cast uniformly tight to the material's various themes.
Obviously not for everyone, but for those not bothered by closeness to the play, and those who love the sort of zingy dialogue found in other Simon film adaptations, then this hits the spot for sure. 8/10
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