Gene Saks, an old hand at directing Neil Simon's work on film (The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park), here takes a stab at Simon's most autobiographical work, which stars Jonathan Silverman as an aspiring writer living wit... more »h two families under one roof in 1937 Brooklyn. Following his old working formula, Saks keeps an eye on the cast's energy and timing but otherwise stays out of the way and lets Simon's story and dialogue tumble wonderfully from the mouths of good actors. Cast in the lead in this 1986 film, the young Silverman (later the star of NBC's Single Guy) makes a very good impression, as does Bob Dishy as his narrator-father. The DVD release has a full-screen presentation. --Tom Keogh« less
"Five stars for the story; four stars for the DVD only because I cannot fathom why - with all the advancing technology and options available - any DVD theatrical release would not be offered in a wide-screen format. Otherwise this has to be the best Neil Simon work I have ever seen. Although I am from a much newer generation, I could identify easily with many of the characters, both from similar personal experiences, and from the culture within which I was raised. I would highly recommend this film, but only to true drama fans (of any age) and to older generations who have lived the times portrayed in this delightful romp. There is mild adult content, so be wary if you allow your young teens to watch. This is one of those rare classics that never received the publicity it deserved on the big screen; but then it can only appeal to a certain audience. If you feel like going out on a limb and watching something different or you want to conjure up old memories of yester-year, then by all means watch this film and enjoy!"
Neil Simon's Trilogy Begins
Movie Mania | Southern Calfornia | 12/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Brighton Beach Memoirs is the beginning of Neil Simon's Eugene Jerome trilogy based on his youth.
Eugene Jerome (Jonathan Silverman in his film debut) is fifteen. He is hitting the puberty and can't control thinking of it. His goal in life is to be the first Jewish pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
But his mother (Blythe Danner) has other ideas for his future. His mother runs the house with an iron fist and guilt. His father (Bob Dishy) is working two jobs just to make ends meet. His older bother Stanley, has just lost his job for talking back to his boss.
Also living with the Jerome's is Blanche's invalid sister (Judith Ivey) and her two daughters. The older one Eugene has more than a passing crush on.
The main theme of this film is too many people living in too little room with too little money. In the end all conflicts arise from this.
This is Neil Simon at his most personal. The only problem is bad casting in the lead. Jonathan Silverman never captures Eugene's spirit. He just seems to be saying the lines and doesn't seem to understand what he is saying. Matthew Broderick created the role in Los Angeles and then Broadway and won a Tony Award. Silverman just doesn't have the comic timing to pull this difficult role off.
On the other side, Blythe Danner shines as Eugene's mother Blanche. Without having to tell the audience her problems, she makes them clear with her delivery. Judith Ivey, in an early role, shows the frailty of Blanche's sister.
This is a very good film and is good background for the excellent second installment Biloxi Blues. Unfortunately, as of today, the final part, Broadway Bound has not been released on DVD.
DVD EXTRAS: None "
Family Fun for all!
Leanne Edwards | Atlanta, GA | 11/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I loved this movie. I had to watch it a few times to get the gist of it. But once I did, it became one of my top 10 cult classics. Jonathon Silverman is so funny. Just hearing Blythe Danner scream "Eugene" is enough to make me laugh. This is in the same category with "A Christmas Story" (about the BB gun). I HIGHLY RECCOMEND THIS MOVIE. NEIL SIMON IS A GENIUS. After you watch this movie, see the sequel "Biloxi Blues" with Matthew Broadrick."
A warm and funny portrayal
Scott Sartain | Manlius, NY USA | 07/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is, without a doubt, one of my favorites. I think the film is well cast, for the most part, and that the chemistry between Danner and Silverman was very genuine in terms of a mother-son relationship. The script is warm and funny and the sets were well done. All in all, I would say that this is a film that any fan of Niel Simon's work should have in their library."
"I have seen the Golden Palace Of The Himalayas..."
z hayes | TX | 11/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a fan of Neil Simon's then "Brighton Beach Memoirs"(1986) is a must-see. This is a well-made movie with an amazing ensemble cast and witty dialogue that had me laughing out loud. Eugene (Jonathan Silverman), a Jewish teenager, narrates the story of his time as an adolescent, growing up amidst a close-knit Jewish family in 1930s Brooklyn, comprising dad, Jack (Bob Dishy), mom Kate (Blythe Danner), brother Stanley (Brian Dillinger), widowed aunt Blanche (Judith Ivey), and cousins Nora (Lisa Waltz) and Laurie (Stacey Glick). Eugene's dad is a hardworking man who tries to manage the family on his meager income, supplemented by the wages of his older son Stanley who works for a haberdasher/slave driver Mr. Stroheim (Steven Hill). The performances of the ensemble cast, especially the comical antics of the lead performer (Silverman) coupled with the creative dialogue make this an immensely entertaining watch. I loved the way family dynamics were explored in this movie - how Eugene feels like he is being victimized and bullied (being constantly sent to the store by his mother complaining,"I'm always going to the store. When I grow up, that's all I'll be trained to do, go to the store"), how the role of males and females were still very traditional (the women stayed home, whilst the men went out to work), and the close bond between members of this family (Eugene's mom takes in her widowed sister and two daughters even though Jack is a low wage-earner).
The most comical aspects are scenes where the adolescent with raging hormones, as portrayed by Eugene, fantasizes about girls and sex. Upon glimpsing his first picture of a naked woman (a French woman at that), Eugene exults: "I have seen the Golden Palace Of The Himalayas. Puberty is OVER! Onward and upward!" Balanced against these comic moments are more somber ones such as when Eugene's 16-year-old cousin Nora decides to forge her own path in life or when Eugene's older brother Stanley has to deal with the repercussions of wrong choices. With its cast of eccentric characters, the irreverent writing and amazing acting, this is a heartwarming, funny and poignant movie. A must-watch! "