Film Review – Diner (1982)

DINER MGM/UA

Title – Diner (1982)

Director – Barry Levinson (Rain Man)

Cast – Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Steve Guttenberg, Ellen Barkin

Plot – Baltimore 1959, Diner centres upon a group of male friends and their times spent talking about life in all its glories at the titular 24 hour diner. Important issues like love, friendship, careers and everything in between is discussed over cherry cokes and fries. Diner deals with these relationships slowly but surely moving onto and into a more serious adult life.

“If you want to talk, you always have the guys at the diner. You don’t need a girl if you wanna talk.”

Review by Eddie on 28/6/2013

A critical success upon release in 1982 Diner marks the beginning of many careers from director Barry Levinson (who filmed his own Oscar nominated script) and launched those of actors Kevin Bacon, Steve Guttenberg and Micky Rourke. Diner really lives and breathes its dialogue which in the end saves it from a more mediocre status.

Centring the story on a group of friends in the late 50’s means Levinson allows for lots of trips to the movies, ample drinking of coke and much music of the heyday of Rock N Roll. As a movie set in this period Diner really succeeds, it’s actually refreshing to see how people use to hang out or party in a way that would now days be laughed at. In Baltimore at this time the movies on a Friday night was the place to be followed by a weekly sabbatical at the local 24 hour a day diner. The central group Levinson has decided to focus his story on features a vast array of different characters, each portrayed to varying success.

Rouke steals the show as the chofonistic  “Boogie” a man caught up in gambling debts yet more focused on who his next romantic target will be, in the wake of Rourke the other characters feel a little dull or just plain annoying. Guttenberg as football obsessed Eddie, Bacon as boozer Timothy and Daniel Stern as recently married record loving “Shrevie” really are nothing short of annoying. Eddie in particular comes across as a true fool, making his soon to be wife do a football quiz before agreeing to the marriage does not make him feel endearing.

Diner perhaps endears because of the time it portrays. Levinson has centred conversations of entertainers or sport stars of the day, obviously a passion project for him as he grew up in the streets of Baltimore. It features some interesting career moments and a tap your feet soundtrack that keeps things tolerable. When watched today Diner seems to have lost its once edgy freshness and despite some pretty memorable scenes (a particular Rourke date at the cinemas comes straight to mind) it is much more a chore to sit through than it should be. A night out at an actual diner with some friends sounds like a much more appealing proposition. One Coke and cheese fries please!

2 and a half popcorn buckets out of 5

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3 responses to “Film Review – Diner (1982)

  1. Good review, ‘sire. I have put this on my queue since I saw Sleepers (just recently) but I couldn’t find myself to watch it. I might actually take an effort to give it a go. Thanks!

    • Sleepers was a great little flick – book well worth a read to. Diner is worth a watch if not least of novelty value of seeing this crew in their early years (Eddie)

  2. So – my three favorite Starbucks in Manhattan – at Bond and Broadway, at 17th and Union Square, at 39th and 8th – always remind me of Diner. Why is that? At first blush it seems these types of hangouts are quite different. Of course, they are. I’ll confess that when I’m in one of these places I’m not, like the ensemble six of Diner, debating the relative merits of Mathis vs. Sinatra or engaging in braggadocio about how I can get a girl to grab my pecker on our first date – but I certainly see groups of young men who are the 2014 versions of these guys.

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