A few years ago a magazine ran a feature on Barry Levinson's debut film "Diner," claiming it as one of the most influential films on what would become the indie boom of the 90s; mostly because it favored dialogue and character-driven scenes over plot and action. They have a point as talking became the new action for directors as varied as Taratino, Linklater, Whit Stillman, and Kevin Smith. However, Levinson was hardly the first to do this (see: Altman, Woody Allen, Godard) and this film has not aged particularly well, despite featuring a lot of actors at the start of their careers (Mickey Rourke used to be a good looking dude). It's decidedly a guy's film and two of the most famous scenes, a sports quiz for a guy's fiancee and the old penis in the popcorn trick, will probably leave female viewers cold. Worth seeing for the cast, which includes Kevin Bacon, Steve Guttenberg, Paul Reiser, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin, Rourke, and Daniel Stern. Also check out Fellini's "I Vitelloni," which handles similar material. Both "American Graffiti" and "Dazed and Confused" are better hang out movies.
I thought this was an underrated classic and was hoping to find a best kept secret. Instead, this so-called hidden gem is really just pyrite. With such a promising cast and critical acclaim on its side, I was ever so disappointed with DINER. It wasn't entertaining, it didn't redeem itself, and it didn't even feel like it was setting a tone, any characterization, or an experience for a movie-watcher to get lost in, leaving me with a bland taste in my mouth. I didn't enjoy it; I can't recommend it.
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