Classic of the Week: Diner (1982)

Diner is a 1982 American comedy drama film written and directed by Barry Levinson, in his film directorial debut. It stars Mickey Rourke, Steven Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Paul Reiser, Kevin Bacon, Timothy Daly and Ellen Barkin.

The semi-autobiographical film is set in the northwest section of Baltimore, Maryland during the last week of 1959 and tells the story of a circle of friends, now in their twenties, who reunite for the wedding of one of the friends in the group and the title makes reference to their late night hang out, the fictional Fell’s Point Diner in Baltimore’s Fell’s Point neighborhood. The film follows the changing relationships among these friends as they become adults.

This is a film with a simple plot, that most group of friends can relate to. The friends in this movie share a celebration of one getting married. They reunite at the diner they hung out at as kids over food, coffee, music and laughs, they party, dance, drink until they’re drunk, talk about life growing up and as adults, go to the wedding, share tears, hugs and toasts and dance some more. They drink lots of coffee and smoke lots of cigarettes, but nearly everyone smoked back then.

Each character is unique one is getting married, one fears marriage, one has a semi-pregnant girlfriend and one has a high paying job he hates. This film might have inspired other movies as well as television shows featuring groups of friends at their favorite hangout like the films The Big Chill and Grosse Point Blank and television shows Seinfeld and Friends. There are laugh out loud and touching moments in this film.

For such a simple plot, with such simple, (yet relatable) characters, you’d think this film would be completely boring, but it is far from it. It shows a group of buddies getting together again to be there for a member of their circle’s wedding. After being apart, (though they kept in touch), for so long, they still shared a close bond, a brother type relationship that so many, even today, don’t have. It was great how they seemed like they hadn’t been apart for a long time.

Yes, this is pretty much a “guy” comedy, but me, being female, thoroughly enjoyed it. It is very entertaining for the most part, because several scenes are a bit slow, but I know that is for dramatic effect, so can’t really complain when it’s necessary to the plot. This is both a happy and not so happy film. There is a wedding for one character , but their is also the other character who is too afraid to propose to his longtime girlfriend and the one guy who complains about his job. You don’t have to be male, or even in your twenties to relate to any of the main dudes. You don’t have to like football, or even sports, or 50s music, to enjoy this movie, nor do you have to be a fella.

This both a happy and a not so happy film. Some parts are pretty slow, but that’s for dramatic effect, so can’t complain if it’s necessary to the plot. Although the guys are young, many times in the movie they seem much older, because the screenplay is smartly written, making each character have a sense of maturity, unlike most twenty something characters from today, who act more like wasted immature junior or high school students. The guys in Diner are wise beyond their years. A great motion picture from beginning to end. 18+ 4.5/5