A thoughtful, charming sleeper. Writer-director Barry Levinson's debut takes us back to the late-1950s Baltimore of his youth, brilliantly evoking that era through carefully drawn characters. Five pals meet at their favorite diner in between problems with women, gambling, and all the woes
attendant upon being twentysomething in 1959. Steve Guttenberg, who has been dragging his feet on the way to the altar, forces his fiancee to pass the world's toughest Baltimore Colts quiz to qualify for marriage; Daniel Stern, who is already married, would rather spend time with the guys than
with the wife he thinks doesn't understand him; Timothy Daly has a pregnant girlfriend who doesn't want to get married; Kevin Bacon is rich, bright, and usually bombed; and Mickey Rourke is a rebellious hairdresser and law student who spends most of his spare time chasing women.
The prominent rock 'n' roll soundtrack keeps the film firmly grounded in its period, but Levinson's masterly script, filled with funny, realistic dialogue (especially in the diner scenes), transcends time and place even as the film so richly conveys both. Featuring excellent performances by a host
of actors who've gone on to prominent careers, to say nothing of Ellen Barkin's wistful turn as Stern's neglected wife, DINER is an often hilarious, frequently touching film.
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