105 Must See Films, Film Reviews, Uncategorized

105 Must Watch Film: Diner (1982)

diner vintage poster

Starring: Kevin Bacon, Daniel Stern, Steve Guttenberg, Mickey Rourke, Timothy Daly, Ellen Barkin, Paul Reiser

Director: Barry Levinson

Baltimore 1959: a group of friends contemplate their futures and the nature of growing up over several conversations in their favourite diner hangout, as one of their number questions whether to get married.

It’s painful to watch. All of these guys are really immature, engaging in high school pranks and conversations when they’re meant to be, I think, college age. One of them is already married, and he largely ignores his wife or yells at her like a spoiled child when she messes up his records. They all talk about women as though they are a commodity. One scene that is particularly weird involves one of the friends hitting on the wife of his friend, and making her wear a wig so he can attempt to sleep with her for a bet. Another guy has set a football exam for his fiancee, which she must pass or he won’t marry her. It’s full of crap like this.

It’s obviously very misogynistic. But it’s also just not very funny either. I found the whole thing desperate and pathetic, as all of them try to avoid growing up. But also, I think it’s pretty sexist towards men. As in, it makes men look really bad, like immature, selfish, manipulative school children. And I have to say, it doesn’t represent any of the men I know. It’s all rather a sad mess really.

It’s a must see because: Barry Levinson wrote this film but allowed his actors to bond and improvise to make the dialogue feel very natural. The film doesn’t use large amounts of exposition to tell the story, but rather allows natural conversations about nothing to show character and plot development. Levinson had to really fight the studio to keep a lot of the scenes about nothing in, but was rewarded by natural performances and great critical acclaim. This mode of directing allowed later shows like Seinfeld to exist, shows “about nothing”. The other reason is that the cast were all unknowns who were catapulted to fame by this film.

See It If: You know, I don’t recommend this film at all.

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3 thoughts on “105 Must Watch Film: Diner (1982)”

  1. Hahha! A funny review for a must-watch film. I remember reading about this film and on account of the cast and director alone I proclaimed it a must-watch. And I did first chance I got. When I saw it now on your list, I realised that I have not thought about it at all in all these years but now that you reminded me of it, it made me grin. That pre-marriage test, really! 😀 I think it was worthwhile because it was so exaggerated.

    By the way, I went through your must-watch list, saw that our tastes match quite a bit and saved some suggestions. I don’t know if you saw my Movie list on my blog (in About Me), but you’re always welcome to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I did, I saw it a long time ago, I was young and Mickey-Rourke-impressionable. 😀 As I say above, I haven’t thought about it again until you brought it up, but now the memory of it makes me grin. So I guess it wasn’t that bad…

        Liked by 1 person

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