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Diner (1982)



Average Rating: 8.1/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 9,080

My Rating

Movie Info

The St. Francis Fountain is one of San Francisco's oldest diners. In this documentary shot on 16mm black and white film, the establishment's clientele, young and old, reflect upon the nostalgia associated with American diners. A man remembers his childhood spent frequenting the St. Francis and how he feels about the new clientele, and the younger customers articulate the appeal of going to this historic diner.


Drama, Comedy

Apr 4, 2000

MGM Home Entertainment

Watch It Now


Latest News on Diner

May 1, 2009:
Barry Levinson Counts to Sixty-Six
Barry Levinson is planning a cinematic return to his favorite source of inspiration, Baltimore, with...


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All Critics (34) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (31) | Rotten (3) | DVD (7)

Levinson's dialogue feels fresh and improvised, yet it hits its mark every time, and the performances he gets are complex and original.

June 2, 2014 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film is wonderfully cast and played.

June 2, 2014 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

For all his painstaking accuracy, Levinson has also concocted a dark and depressing period story devoid of a single person without a major problem or character flaw.

June 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Not a lot to it, but the sense of period is acute, the script witty without falling into the crude pitfalls that beset other adolescent comedies, and the performances are spot-on.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Diner is often a very funny movie, although I laughed most freely not at the sexual pranks but at the movie's accurate ear, as it reproduced dialogue with great comic accuracy.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Movies like Diner -- fresh, well-acted and energetic American movies by new directors with the courage of their convictions -- are an endangered species.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

With so much going for it, then, why doesn't 'Diner' emerge as a major statement? Mostly because of the recurring weakness of its screenplay.

June 2, 2014 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

Though nothing much happens this is a skilfully written comedy-drama that plays close attention to character and boasts fine performances by a quality cast.

June 2, 2014 Full Review Source: Film4

This gentle, warm-hearted comedy drama about a group of young men in 1950s Baltimore was director Barry Levinson's debut feature and it remains among his finest work.

June 2, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

All the performances are remarkable. Rourke won't stay unknown for long. But the ultimate triumph is Levinson's. He captures both the surface and the soul of an era with candor and precision.

June 2, 2014 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

not a great film, but it certainly is memorable

May 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

As confused as its male protagonists are about their proper place in the world, it's their relationship to women that beguiles them most. It's also their path to maturity.

June 6, 2011 Full Review Source:

Thoroughly enjoyable nostalgia film about lost youth that's as refreshing as a cup of coffee from a Greek diner.

May 19, 2009 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Made by an insider, Baltimore's son Barry Levinson, who gets the texture and characters right, Diner is one of the most perceptive youth tales about the gulf between the sexes before the subject became a debatable issue.

June 12, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

A witty and biting screenplay is excellently portrayed by an ensemble, who would all soon become big stars.

May 6, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Even with all its accolades, it's still an underappreciated gem

September 13, 2005

Diner features a group of twentysomething friends whose camaraderie, hijinks and troubles ought to resonate with many viewers.

February 4, 2004 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

A thoughtful, charming sleeper.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Diner is a naturalistically acted movie, but Rourke is so fluent with streetwise gesture and cool grace that he makes his costars look like the Three Stooges.

November 6, 2001 Full Review Source: Movieline

A clever, biting script buoys a cast of soon-to-be famous actors in this endearing male-bonding ritual writ large.

September 25, 2001 Full Review Source: All Movie Guide
All Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for Diner

A sweet bit of nostalgia tugging on your memory, Diner is less about the dramatic turns of a group of friends, and more about a simpler time when most people knew Frank Sinatra as Old Blue Eyes, and the diner was a happenin' joint. This film only exists to wax nostalgia about the fifties, and though some trivial issues are brought to light it isn't a commentary on the times or a story that has any kind of real climax. The group of friends are interesting at first, as they each have unique personalities, slights of hand, and problems that seem momentous even today, but their storylines don't go anywhere. The one marriage of the group is troubled thanks to the fact that they married young, and the way each handles the impending loneliness was interesting, but there wasn't much conclusion. The new marriage that is just beginning doesn't seem to matter so much as being a setting to further the plot. Even Fenwick (Bacon), who is by far the most interesting character, is left without much screen time. He simply plays a practical joke, shows his intelligence, vulnerability, and eccentricities (maybe a form of psychosis) and disappears from the film altogether to make room for more boring scenes that aren't strung together. If this was a film about character studies, or an actor's film I would understand not having a plot, but the characters aren't developed enough for us to care about them. This was done so much better in American Graffiti, with its long, episodic sequences and significant buildup. Here, though slightly enjoyable as it is a "slice of life" film about an innocent time to most viewers, it does fall flat on occasion. It's saved most times by Mickey Rourke, who plasters another cocky grin on his face and steals most of the scenes with his charismatic flair and debonair, nearly grungy, appeal. The rest of the cast is exceptional when they're given decent scenes to work with, but otherwise this didn't floor me or make for a feel good experience.
May 22, 2012

Super Reviewer

Edward Eddie Simmons: If you want to talk, you always have the guys at the diner. You don't need a girl if you wanna talk. 

"Suddenly, life was more than french fries, gravy and girls."

Barry Levinson's debut film, Diner, is a truly remarkable semi-autobiographical start to his great career. The movie has no real plot, but it is just the everyday goings on for a group of friends. The group is right on the edge of adulthood. They are at that point where it is time to grow up, but they can't quite summon the courage to do so. They gather at the local diner and show that they are still teenagers on the inside. They still have that immaturity that every high school student has. They can't get together without their conversations turning to the unimportant or the immature. They'll start talking about moving on in life, getting married and all this other crap that goes along with growing up, but they will always come back to the same core issues. I definitely watched this movie at the right time of my life, as I am very much on that same edge of immaturity and adulthood; not quite wanting what I have now, but not ready to move on. It is an interesting time.

I really enjoyed watching this slice of life film. I loved listening to the characters conversations because they are so true to life. When people this age get together this is what they are going to talk about. They are going to make bets to see if they can get a girl to touch them on the first date. They are going to fight over who the best musician is. This is life at that age. Even the one married character in the film can't grow up. He  whines about how his wife messes up his record collection. Oh my God, she but Jackson Browne in with the Rock N' Roll. That's what the characters really care about.

The cast was amazing in this film, which would become a staple of most Levinson films. Mickey Rourke is always the standout in my opinion, especially in his younger days. He is just the definition if cool in almost every role he had. You can't beat his dick in the popcorn scene either; extremely hilarious. He plays a lady's man gambler. He gets himself into some trouble when he runs up a big betting debt and he has to scramble and make more bets to try to pay it off. 

Diner is a really enjoyable time. If you enjoy the type of movie, where nothing much happens plot wise, but it is all character driven; this is for you. If you are one of those people that needs a lot of action to keep you entertained and can't just watch people talk back and forth, then I would stay clear of this one.
December 12, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Mickey Rourke used to have a voice.
December 6, 2010

Super Reviewer

What is wrong with young folks these days. Its a great Movie.
November 27, 2009
Wahida K

Super Reviewer

    1. Robert "Boogie" Sheftell: Nobody bets 2,000 dollars and doesn't remember.
    2. Robert "Boogie" Sheftell: Look, the game's a lock.
    3. Bagel: Nothing's lock, Boog. Nothing's a lock.
    – Submitted by Dino D (9 months ago)
    1. Timothy Fenwick Jr.: I'm going to Europe.
    2. Diane: Why don't you travel around the United States.
    3. Timothy Fenwick Jr.: It's been done. Europe'll be a smile.
    – Submitted by Thomas D (12 months ago)
    1. Robert "Boogie" Sheftell: If you don't have good dreams Bagel, you'll have nightmares.
    – Submitted by Thomas D (12 months ago)
    1. Edward 'Eddie' Simmons: Who's that?
    2. William 'Billy' Howard: That's death walking on the beach.
    3. Edward 'Eddie' Simmons: I've been to Atlantic City a hundred times. I never saw death walking on the beach.
    – Submitted by Thomas D (12 months ago)
    1. William 'Billy' Howard: I'll hit you so hard I'll kill your whole family.
    – Submitted by Moe J (2 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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