Diner - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Diner Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 8, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
December 12, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
January 14, 2009
Mickey Rourke used to have a voice.
Super Reviewer
November 27, 2009
What is wrong with young folks these days. Its a great Movie.
Super Reviewer
September 18, 2009
The thing about this film that I liked the most was that, for the first time in a long time, I felt that these were characters that I could actually hang out with. The dialogue is great and most of the performances were spot on (except for Tim Daly, who really didn't impress me and Rourke's voice in this film compared to now is hilarious and is (in itself) a non-smoking commercial). I think the only times when I tuned out and where I thought the film dragged was only because of my cynical nature and the fact that I have become jaded against coming of age stories over the years. This is by far one of the most realistic and charming and also features Steve Guttenberg's best performance on film.
Super Reviewer
December 6, 2008
I knew I was going to like this movie the minute I picked it up. First, the time period. Second, the concept of growing up (the bildungswoman). Third, the DIALOGUE. Funniest, wittiest, most poignant thing ever. It's like, college age Stand By Me, sans adventure and bullies, plus marital strife and job doubts. It's male bonding at its finest. It's 50s age "Friends" with men. It's the thinking man's American Graffiti. It's WONDERFUL. I wouldn't mind seeing a Diner 2 and Diner 3 if Levinson could bring these guys back intact. Also, Mickey Rourke and Tim Daly were so sexy back then. And Ellen Barkin too.
Super Reviewer
December 9, 2006
Eddie: When you're making out, which do you prefer, Sinatra or Mathis?
Boogie: I like Presley.

A coming of age comedy about a group of guys on the verge of truly becoming adults. Its set in 1950s Baltimore, and revolves around this group mainly hanging out in a diner.

The group includes Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, and Paul Reiser. It is the natural chemistry that all these guys have together, providing for a lot of improv, that makes this an enjoyable movie to watch.

Director Barry Levinson doesn't try to break much new ground here. A similar formula has been done in a number of films, namely American Graffiti, let alone the show Happy Days. The mix of an episodic structure about a few days in the life of these characters, accompanied by some timely hit songs is almost its own genre, but its an entertaining one.

There is not so much a plot as there is a series of events that develop over time. Guttenberg is about to get married, granted his wife can pass his football test. Stern and his wife, played nicely by Ellen Barkin, are trying to work out the marriage thing, which is new to them. Bacon is mostly drunk throughout. Reiser doesn't really do anything, but has a few good lines and a nice bit at the end. And Rourke is a gambling man.

This is a fun movie about male camaraderie, and that's all its supposed to be.

Modell: You know what word I'm not comfortable with? Nuance. It's not a real word. Like gesture. Gesture's a real word. With gesture you know where you stand. But nuance? I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong.
Super Reviewer
½ April 16, 2007
A film that oozes cool. The sharp witty dialogue is simply fantastic. The young cast also put real heart into amazing performances, in which each character must come to terms with having to grow up in their own way. A deffinate small classic, and great for anyone who loves Swingers or the dialogue found in Tarantino films.
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2006
Such an incredible movie. It's funny, smart and clever.
Gavin the moviejunkie1994
Super Reviewer
August 17, 2010
Sometimes adult films can be very entertaining with stronger premises, neat acting, and laugh-out-loud comedy which is why we get Barry Levinson's Diner.

It revolves around christmas time in 1959 where 5 boys spend their time at the diner. When the gang realizes that they have to spend a few days without the comfort of their favorite restaurant, they try to settle their lives by showing their responsibilities while sharing their details.

Thinking about this movie makes me want to watch it again to keep on making me laugh my butt off. I mean, it is that good there's absolutely nothing negatvie to say about it.

The premise about spending their lives explaining their details without the diner was very interesting. The acting was pure masterpiece. Every actor you see, Steve Guttenberg from the Police Academy series, Daniel Stern from Home Alones 1 and 2, Mickey Rourke from Iron Man 2, Kevin Bacon from Apollo 13, Balto, Mystic River, you name it.

The comedy was pure genius. The jokes that I like the best were Fenwick pretending to be dead from his car accident and the part where Fenwick gets drunk while goofing off near a church.

The soundtrack was great and the 1959 period setting was very creative.

Diner is one of the greatest films ever made from the early 80s that defines the 50s and it is in my list.

5 out of 5
Super Reviewer
½ January 3, 2009
Sharply written and acted with assurance by a skilled group of players, this movie touches on a typical young man's departure from the last shreds of innocence. Although thematically interesting and altogether quite intelligent, the ultimate aim of the piece is rather ambiguous and difficult to pin down. Entertaining, but it feels slightly less affecting than it should.
Super Reviewer
August 14, 2007
American Graffiti is better, and they are quite similar: nostalgic 50s peices with big cast of friends on the brink of major transitions in their lives set in the course of one night or so, except this is an almost pan male cast. A good soundtrack, though it's hard to screw up 50s music for me. I love oldies. Steve Guttenberg is clearly having a good time with this role. I didn't have a change to finish the last half hour, and now that I have more time, I don't really feel the need to, if that tells you anything.
Super Reviewer
½ June 26, 2009
One of my favorite movies of 2008 was The Wrestler, and key to that film was the lead performance by Mickey Rourke. As much as I loved Sean Penn in Milk, I?m confident in saying that Rourke was robbed. However, one element of that whole story I wasn?t really in on was that of Rourke as an actor in need of a comeback. As the buzz around him as an actor mounted I checked his IMDB page and realized that the one and only other Mickey Rourke performance I?d actually seen was in Sin City, I was completely ignorant of the work he did in his prime. I hadn?t meant to avoid all of Rourke?s work, but I wasn?t around to see his 80s work and a lot of these movies just don?t jump out as movies to be revisited. So I?ve decided to do a little Rourke retrospective starting with one of his first major roles in one of the most critically acclaimed films.

I only barely recognized Rourke here, interestingly I wouldn?t have recognized him at all simply from seeing The Wrestler, it was only because I saw him at award shows that I could just make out which of the guys here was Rourke, so in that sense I have a newfound respect for his work as Randy the Ram. The work he delivers here was not what I was expecting, he seems less like a character actor and more like a movie star. Almost like a young Sean Penn, ironically. He had a great screen presence, but this isn?t quite Oscar caliber work, he pretty much blends into the

As for the movie itself, it didn?t really do a lot for me. It?s almost like an unofficial sequel to American Graffiti, its set in the fifties but the characters are twenty-somethings instead of teenagers. Like that film, there isn?t really much of a narrative here, it?s a mostly episodic affair which focuses on an ensemble interacting with each other over the course of a couple nights. It also reminded me a little of The Big Chill, also a movie that didn?t do a lot for me. This sort of structure could potentially work for me, but I wasn?t all that predisposed to relate to these guys. With another set of characters and another setting I would have liked this approach, but this particular film was just didn?t do it for me.
Super Reviewer
January 20, 2008
A rare glimps into the future of hollywood. . . Just look at the director/cast of this film made in 198. Every one of these guys did a really great job. The plot was subtle but not totally "bland" or anything BUT If you want to see a film that just plain has good acting in it, this is a film for you.
Super Reviewer
May 15, 2009
Yeah, this is a charming-ass flick.
Super Reviewer
March 18, 2009
This movie is one hell of a gem.Yeah I have found that most people havent even heard of this movie. Well I'm hear to tell you that you should definitely check this one out. I mean its got some great performances from Kevin Bacon and the standout in this film for me was Mickey Rourke. What the hell happened to his face since making this movie by the way? Anway he steals most of the scenes he's in. The movie doesnt just take place inside of a diner the whole time,just so you know. Its the story about six guys in thier early twenties as they reach thier adult hood they discover themselves. Just about the time that they are entering the world of marriage.The movie has some of the most engaing scenes of dialogue I have ever seen. The scenes are often funny and touching at the same time.Check this one out!

Shrevie: Ok, now ask me what's on the flip side.
Beth: Why?
Shrevie: Just, just ask me what's on the flip side, OK?
Beth: What is on the flip side?
Shrevie: Hey, Hey, Hey, 1958. Specialty Records.
[Beth nods blankly]
Shrevie: See? You don't ask me things like that, do you? No! You never ask me what's on the flip side.
Beth: No! Because I don't give a shit. Shrevie, who cares about what's on the flip side about the record?
Shrevie: I do! Every one of my records means something! The label, the producer, the year it was made. Who was copying whose style... who's expanding on that, don't you understand? When I listen to my records they take me back to certain points in my life, OK? Just don't touch my records, ever! You! The first time I met you? Modell's sister's high school graduation party, right? 1955. And Ain't That A Shame was playing when I walked into the door!
Super Reviewer
½ August 14, 2008
One of the great 80's movies. It has one of the best scipts and coolest characters in Boogie, played my Mickey Rourke.
Super Reviewer
December 20, 2006
Mickey Rourke will always be Mickey Rourke!
August 18, 2014
Finally got around to checking this one out after years of hearing about it and I was pleased to say that it's a nice little slice of life drama, though I wasn't expecting it to be a period piece, so that threw me a little but at first.

Well worth a rental.
½ June 30, 2012
It was a unique ensemble of actors, but beyond that there wasn't much to see. (First and only viewing - 3/28/2014)
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