Diner (1982)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Ensemble Film, Coming-of-Age, Reunion Films  |   Release Date - Mar 5, 1982 (USA)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Dan Jardine

This talk-heavy comedy, set in 1950s Baltimore, marked Barry Levinson's directorial debut. Filled with excellent dialogue (the screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award) and star-making performances, the largely-unknown-at-the-time cast includes Kevin Bacon, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Paul Reiser, and Ellen Barkin (it marked the big screen debuts of the latter two performers). The rampant immaturity of the male quintet of friends is amusingly lampooned in Levinson's clever and cutting script, a refreshingly honest depiction of an era often bathed in sepia-toned nostalgia. The male bonding rituals that tie together these aimless protagonists are presented as both childish and endearing, allowing the audience to laugh both with and at the protagonists. The setting is an immaculate and loving recreation of Levinson's childhood haunts, and the wonderful soundtrack makes the retro-experience complete and fulfilling. Diner was the first of Levinson's so-called Baltimore trilogy, which includes Tin Men (1987) and Avalon (1990). His television series of the mid-1990's, Homicide, was likewise set in his beloved Baltimore.