As I mentioned in my Wild Reeds review, the list seems to have a thing for coming-of-age films. There’s one to represent just about every generation of moviegoers, so everyone gets a bit of nostalgia. Diner, a Barry Levinson film, and the one that launched his directorial career, is a coming-of-age film a bit different than the rest of the crowd, in that the main guys are pretty much already of age. The film is reminiscent of a much more mature St. Elmo’s Fire; it has the same sensibilities, the same mindset, and the same incongruous narrative. Really, there’s a few films that Diner is reminiscent of, and to be honest, I wasn’t too sure why the list picked this one over other examples.
The cast is the main draw of this film. Most of the main players, like Steve Guttenberg, Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, and Tim Daly, were relative unknowns at the time, but went on to have quite successful careers. Here, they form an ensemble to rival that of any other Breakfast Club-like film; there’s camaraderie galore, and a few select scenes that make the film memorable, like the popcorn scene (if you’ve seen the film, you know what I mean). As befitting the naturalistic performances, a lot of improvisation was encouraged, which I always find funny whenever improv is utilized and the screenplay ends up getting nominated for an Academy Award, as this one was. Everything else about this one was just about perfect, from the set dressing to the period-piece details to the editing, it all was exactly the way it should be.
If you do decide to delve into this one, you’ll probably remember it for a few choice scenes, but the film as a whole is very memorable if you pay attention to it. Still, I’m not too sure what makes this memorable in contrast to the other films of its like, like St. Elmo’s or American Graffiti, but it was definitely enjoyable, and it’ll leave its mark on you if you let it. If you’re interested in more films like the ones I’ve mentioned, Diner will be right up your alley; it’s well-written, and it’s well-acted, so you won’t have to worry about a shoddy film coming your way. Just sit back and enjoy the nostalgia trip that this will send you on.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10