The film that launched successful careers for Kevin Bacon, Ellen Barkin, Paul Reiser, Mickey Rourke and more! It's a lively, poignant tale of friends trying to recapture their lost innocence in 1959 Baltimore.
"DINER has been receiving a lot of unkind remarks in recent years, and much of it is undeserved. Time is really what has been unkind. In 1982, after years of hippie doldrums, disco ho-hum, and punk self-destruction, Barry Levinson reached back to a different era which seemed like a simpler one. But he did so without a nostalgic eye. He presented five young men at a point in life when hard decisions have to be made. To compound this, each of the five young men are facing critical issues at this critical time. (Notice I say five men, not six. Modell [Paul Reiser] doesn't have a plot line. He's there for comic effect mostly.) Boogie (Micky Rourke), his gambling problems aside, struggles to keep his dreams but must learn to accept the responsibilities of life. The intellectual but alcohol-plagued Fenwick (Kevin Bacon) must face-down his crusty, aloof family once and for all. Shreevie (Daniel Stern) must learn to translate his love for love songs for love for his wife before his marriage completely evaporates. Mama's boy (with a twisted mama), Eddie, (Steve Guttenburg) who has no real excuse for treating his fiancee so badly, is the most desperate in need of growing up. To me, Billy (Timothy Daly) has the most poignant of all problems. He's willing to face up to his responsibility; he's willing to do the right thing. In one scene, where he decks the last opposing player of a baseball team that had ganged up on him, he essentially has put his boyhood behind him. What's standing in his way is the woman carrying his child but won't marry him. (She has good reason, by the way, for being reluctant.)But comedy is watching other people struggle with their problems, after all. To me, the more believeable the problems (and they are believeable) the more effective the comedy.Levinson squeezes so much humor out of these characters, and the actors deliver beautifully. The ease with which the cast interacts makes the viewer wonder whether they had been friends for years before making this film. Unlike other comedies of the early 80s--the infamous one-liners strung together--DINER's tangle of plot lines grows logically; it progresses as a result of the characters, not the situation. And while the film ends, according to true comic convention, with a wedding, it is the only traditional aspect of the film. It was truly unique for its time. And perhaps the time will come again when people will appreciate the value of this movie."
A GIRL'S EYE-VIEW OF DINER
sweetmolly | RICHMOND, VA USA | 12/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Couldn't help but note that all these fine reviews appear to be written by males. Lest anyone get the impression Diner is strictly a "guy" film, I'm here to enlarge the audience base. It's a no-plot hilarious film with enough bitter/poignant moments to lift it beyond comedy. The acting is superb. I can't say enough about Barry Levinson's firm grasp on the entire picture. The actors, though now well known, were neophytes at the time. Levinson took them beyond themselves. Some of them have never approached the perfection again of their performanances in this film. I think particularly of Steve Guttenberg and Mickey Rourke. I became an instant Kevin Bacon fan first for crass reasons (be still my beating heart) and secondly for his excellent realization of his role. They are bored, they are restless and no, they are not "men." They are between adolescence and adulthood, a very unpleasant place to be. We laugh, but they didn't--not then."
THE REAL THING.....
hiscapital | London | 06/12/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whether you're from Baltimore or from a suburb outside of New York as I am; whether you grew up in the 50s or the 70s as I did, this film will make you feel right at home. Very few movies can take the most mundane, the most ridiculously trivial moments and conversation from real life and make them interesting never mind howlingly funny. Diner succeeds in this and more. We know these guys: their sophomoric antics, their idiosyncrasies, their loyalties to best friends and their uneasy transition into the adult responsibilities of money, work, and marriage.The scenes at the diner are deceptively complex in that Levinson has several characters speaking at the same time and yet we can follow the dialogue with no difficulty. The conversation, physical reactions and interplay between characters is so natural as to seem completely unrehearsed and unedited. It's almost as if we are at the next table eavesdropping on the fun.The cast in Diner was rightfully recognized as a superb group of players and everyone from Daniel Stern to Kevin Bacon to Ellen Barkin has done prolific work since then.I heartily recommend you watch Diner with your best friends and then go out for a meal afterwards. Whether you choose to order french fries and gravy is up to you."
Sanctuary or Tomb?
Robert Morris | Dallas, Texas | 09/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the first of films which comprise Barry Levinson's "Baltimore Trilogy," the other two being Tin Men (1987) and Avalon (1990). No two share much in common except Levinson's obvious love of the city and his commitment to "controlled freedom" which allows actors to improvise, collaborate with him on script revisions, and in other ways participate in the completion of a film. The nature and extent of such engagement is unique. The results -- as evident in the trilogy -- are impressive. I guess you could call Diner a "guys film" but the six mutually-dependent (co-dependent?) young men seem so immature, indeed so dysfunctional to me that I find it difficult to believe that any reasonably intelligent, self-assured young woman would want to have anything with them, especially as a group. Beth (Ellen Barkin) is married to one of them, "Shrevie" (Daniel Stern), who would much rather hang out at the diner with his friends than spend time with her. Eddie (Steve Guttenberg) is engaged to be married and already has concerns about being "tied down" as he prepares a prenuptial quiz based on Baltimore Colts trivia. His fiancee must get at least a score of 65 to "pass" or the wedding is off. Modell (Paul Reiser) has a sharp sense of humor and apparently nothing else going for him. "Boogie" (Mickey Rourke) is a hair dresser by day and claims to be a law student at night while sinking further into (gambling) debt to his bookie. As for Timothy (Kevin Bacon), he lives on a meager monthly allowance from a family trust fund and is perhaps the most lethargic of them all, no doubt because he is almost always drunk or close to it. They are re-joined by Billy who returns to Baltimore from graduate school in New York to serve as Eddie's best man. Billy has a pregnant girlfriend who seems indifferent to any further contact with him. According to Levinson, he shot the diner scenes last so that, by then, the six lead actors would have gotten to know each other and be more comfortable with each other...if not bond as tightly as the characters they portray in the film. My reactions to it when I first saw it were different from when I saw it again recently. Unlike in National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), much of the humor in Diner now seems somewhat stale to me. Also I now have much less patience with the central characters' immaturity and irresponsibility which I thought was rather cool in 1982. Also, I am much more uncomfortable now with how they view women and, worse yet, how they treat them. Finally, I now feel some degree of sorrow for behavior which seems so wasteful. Don't these guys realize that time is NOT unlimited, that getting as much formal education as possible is highly desirable, that decisions have consequences, and the number and quality of opportunities in their lives will rapidly diminish each year? Obviously, the movie hasn't changed. I have.However, then in 1982 and again recently, I really enjoyed the soundtrack (available on a CD), featuring 41 classics which include Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On (Jerry Lee Lewis), Teenager in Love (Dion & The Belmonts), Mr. Blue (The Fleetwoods), Come Go with Me (Del Vikings), Beyond the Sea (Bobby Darin), It's All in the Game (Tommy Edwards), Whole Lotta Lovin (Fats Domino), Don't Be Cruel (Elvis Presley), and Goodbye Baby (Jack Scott). Each generates so many personal memories, including specific scenes in this film. The DVD version offers two especially interesting special features: an "Introduction" by Levinson and a "making of" documentary called "Diner: On the Flip Side" with Levinson and members of his talented cast (except Rourke). Those who enjoy this film are urged to check out the aforementioned Tin Men and Avalon as well as American Graffiti (1974), Car Wash (1976), The Hollywood Knights (1980), Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Mystic Pizza (1988), and Barbershop (2002)."
A minor classic and a great DVD!
Kevin P. Westmoreland | Asheville, NC United States | 12/31/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw Diner in the early eighties and it became one of my favorites. It captures the same feel as another coming of age movie, American Graffiti. The stories occur only three years apart, with Diner capturing more of the fifties feel and being the grittier of the two. While both of the films are excellent and understated, I can probably handle Diner on a more regular basis. It struck a chord with me because a group of 5-6 friends and I spent each Friday and Saturday night during the early eighties sitting around a table in an all night cafe doing what the guys in Diner do - talking about women and the world in general.The characters are normal guys, but at the same time they hold surprises. Boogie, played by Mickey Rourke, works in a beauty salon AND goes to law school at night. And this is in 1959! Fenwick, Kevin Bacon's character, appears to be a delinquent with a drinking problem (which he is), but reveals an intelligent side. Daniel Stern's character doesn't understand his wife at all, but has an encyclopedic knowledge of music history.The entire starring cast went on to bigger (but not always better - where is that understated Mickey Rourke now?) things but the film contained firsts for several people involved. This was Barry Levinson's directorial debut, Ellen Barkin's film debut and a breakout role for Mickey Rourke.The DVD is a pleasant surprise. It contains an anamorphic widescreen video transfer which is surprisingly free of nicks and scratches, although not perfect. The widescreen presentation is a revelation when compared to the pan and scan VHS version. City shots show much more and the group scenes flow much more smoothly without the cutting back and forth between characters.Another surprise is the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. Most films in the early eighties were stereo, but many small films have not gotten the full DD treatment. This one has and, though it is not an action-explosion-car crash movie, the benefits of the DD audio are evident.There is also a documentary called Diner:On the Flip Side which has Levinson and all the stars except Mickey Rourke in it. This is a nice addition as it helps explain how the characters appear to be a real group of friends, not just actors playing a group of friends. The parallels with American Grafitti continue here, as both casts were brought to their shooting locations, housed in a hotel and spent an inordinate amount of time together before and during filming.If you want a film that envelopes you like a warm blanket, and which has great dialogue and character interaction, get this DVD, call over a few friends and enjoy."